Employer Explains Why He Won't Hire The Unemployed

discrimination against unemployed hiring

Discrimination against the unemployed is rampant. Some job ads explicitly require applicants to be "currently employed," and Americans who have been out of work for a year or longer report employers rejecting them as soon as that tidbit comes out.

And this is legal in virtually every state. A congressional bill introduced last summer, which would have criminalized it, is languishing. Earlier this year, California was poised to become the first state in the country to ban such discrimination. But Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed it, remarking that it would likely lead to "unnecessary confusion."

As of today, only Washington D.C. has such a law on the books, though Oregon and New Jersey currently ban discriminatory language in job listings.

More: Do You Have To Put Up With Unemployment Discrimination?

So why are employers averse to hiring the jobless? AOL Jobs called about a half dozen employers who took out ads that explicitly stated current employment was required, but only one would agree to an interview: Alex Comana, who runs the La Mesa, Calif.-based property management and real estate firm, The Comana Company. He posted a job ad for an apartment complex manager earlier this year specifying that only the currently employed need apply.

In an interview with AOL Jobs, he was refreshingly candid. He said his primary reason for only considering employed applicants was that he was trying to fill an unusual job -- one that came with free rent, instead of pay. As a result, he said, he wanted somebody who is currently employed so that the worker would "be able to put food on the table."

To be sure, there are plenty of jobless workers who would welcome a gig that came with free housing; in fact he says he received applications from jobless workers -- which he wouldn't consider. In an interview, he freely acknowledged that there were other reasons why he -- and many other employers -- preferred not to hire the unemployed.

Here are the top reasons he gave:

1. People who have a job are proven to be valuable.

"If someone is still currently employed, it tells me they're skilled enough, valuable enough to still be employed, to still have a job," explains Comana. (He is not alone in this thinking. Studies have found that hiring managers -- when presented with identical resumes, except that one candidate was employed and the other not -- rate the employed applicant as more competent.)

More: 7 Signs Of Discrimination Against Veterans At Work

2. You can't be sure why the unemployed lost their jobs.

"You have to definitely investigate their situation," Comana says about unemployed applicants, to find out whether they lost their job because of downsizing or poor performance. "There could be a very well qualified individual who was just downsized out of the job. And a person who was downsized is more valuable than someone who lost their job because of poor performance."

3. The employed will adjust quicker to a new job.

"Getting them into the daily routine," Comana says, is another potential issue in hiring the unemployed. "It would be less burdensome to try to acclimate the [already-employed] employee into their required work environment," he says, because they're used to the 9-to-5 grind. As an example, he says many of the unemployed applicants for the job he posted didn't follow the directions, like writing their cover letter in both English and Spanish.

"When you're out of the job market I think you kind of forget how to follow directions, or just don't really pay attention to what's being requested," he says. "You become a little rusty."

More: Fat And Unemployed: Is There A Connection?

4. An employed candidate has fresher job skills.

"Employers are looking to improve their bottom line," says Comana, and they can do that "by bringing someone on board you don't have to spend time on training, or time on acclimating them. It comes down to how much does this corporation make. [Employers] need to limit their expenses."

5. I have to watch the bottom line.

Comana recognizes that passing over candidates because of their employment status puts the jobless in a catch-22 -- they can't get a job because they don't have one. "I can see the other side of the coin," he says. "How can this person who, again, could be a talented individual, how can they be hired at this company if one of the requirements is that they are currently employed? They can't."

But on the other side, he says, employers need to hire individuals they can be sure will help the company grow. "An employer is looking at the bottom line and wondering if this person is going to work hard, because they've been out of the market for so long," he explains. "It's tough on both ends."

Have you been turned down for a job because you're unemployed, or have you turned down job applicants because they were jobless? Share your experiences in the comments section.

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As if there were another reason necessary to leave California. Re-electing this idiotic dinosaur Jerry Brown who I remember laughing at back in the late 70's early 80's for braying on about water while aerospace was leaving enough of a vacuum behind it on the way out of the state that it was destroying other industries with its jet wash. And he's STILL BRAYING about water now while his state has disgusting unemployment rates and a ridiculously overblown cost of living and when a bill comes up that prevents BLATANT and IDIOTIC discrimination in hiring this dumdum VETOES IT?!

This state deserves itself.

April 15 2015 at 9:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Of course the reality of what these policies actually do to the workforce never comes into play for many of these employers.

If people do not have job, no one buys goods and services. If no one buys goods and services, no employer has money to reach the bottom line they were trying to protect by discriminating against the unemployed.

The employer has to let go his current employees and eventually he has to close down his business. He himself ends up poor and having to supplement his income all-the-while battling the myriad of problems that affect the poor, unemployed and homeless he originally looked down upon.

That does not seem like a sound business plan.

November 20 2014 at 10:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Daniel Embody

The problem with their logic is that 80% of the world's top performers were unemployed or fired at one point in their careers. To eliminate these people would be to eliminate 80% of the world's top performers. Not a very smart business move.

October 16 2014 at 2:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My name is Alex Comana and I'm the gentleman who was interviewed for this article. Since this article was written almost 2 years ago I have received many communications from individuals expressing their viewpoints. Although most were a tirade of insults, most likely based on a foundation of firsthand unemployment, there were a handful of intelligible communications presenting scenarios of how persons could find themselves in an unemployment line simply due to circumstances beyond their control. The presentation of these scenarios have caused me to realize the error of my thinking. I now understand there are many valuable unemployed individuals, perhaps even superior to some employed individuals, who deserve an equal opportunity to apply for any opening within our company and any other company for that matter. Thank you to those individuals who shared an intellectual perspective on the subject. Your efforts have allowed me to grow as a person and as an employer.
Alex Comana

September 19 2014 at 1:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Lol! And this is what most supposedly intelligent employers really think. There is currently no research to support such stupidity. I made a conscious decision to stay out of the traditional workforce because I saw an opportunity to get my graduate and post graduate degree. During this time I did assitantships, volunteer work and free skill building work in the career I wanted to go into. I also stayed out a bit longer to home-school my daughter which actually made me smarter. However, when a company only relies on computers, recruiters and dumb trends to tell them if someone is "working" or not they miss out on the cream of the crop employees. During this time I have taken computer classes to keep current with technology and I am fabulous for work, management and training others. I think the joke is on the employers that think they are so smart though. Myself and others like me have found power in low level jobs where we move up quickly and share our talents with the underdogs. Don't waste your time trying to prove yourselves. Go out and look for small private companies who really want awesome employees, who want to really take the time to get the best and not just some dud who is good with keywords and faking through the system. The term "unemployed" doesn't even mean to these folk what you think it means. To them anything other than a traditional job is unemployed to them. So if you have been self employed you are unemployed. They have very narrow ways of seeking qualified applicants which is why they usually end up with high turnovers.

June 29 2014 at 2:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
James Phillips

this is terrible, how can any competent employer themselves wonder how an employed person got their job?! it's a no brainer. Companies with this mind set are not WORTH working for and if guns like that are pointed then it creates an employer culture, either become an employer or sink which we don't have the funding to do so it's really not helpful and a no brainer to suggest unemployed are "useless" which is absolutely balderdash and unexplainable, the employed people are unlikely to move or if they are it means that there was a time when employers took on unemployed people, gave them a bit of TLC and made them who they are today and so to change that attitude locks out unemployed people and employed people prosper while the poor get poorer, it has to change, it's a redundant mentality, how are unemployed suppose to get anywhere in life? even more annoying that the government panders to employers i even went to a "wage incentive" group that promised to PAY employers to employ people for 6 months, it's not permanent but how sick and twisted is that, we have a working culture that rules entirely in employers favour and makes them fat, immobile kings and queens who splutter weak words and the lower ranks suffer and slave away, what an awful world we live in where even honest, genuine people cant get anywhere because we unemployed are not allowed to get employed, it's mind numbingly stupid, ignorant, arrogant, cruel and selfish

May 04 2014 at 7:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It is very annoying to have to deal with bullshit job hiring ads. It gives a bad impression. Employers constantly job advertise and just ignore all applicants, then continue to job advertise endlessly. I think employers, managers, supervisors, team leads are trying to scare their existing staff to not stand up for themselves or they are replaceable with plenty of applicants. They ignore all local job applicants and then claim they can't find any citizens to work. They then use that excuse to go to the national government to open wide the immigration doors to import more cheap foreign slave workers because the employers don't want to pay.

Read the people's comments on www.ratemyemployer.ca, www.topix.com (Victoria, BC, Canada), www.yelp.com, www.thedirty.com, Yahoo Answers, BBB, others. You will understand the corruption game that is being played by governments, companies, agencies. Everyone is only useless as a money milking cow.

February 27 2014 at 7:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This is actually unemployment and race discrimination because blacks are the most unemployed and for longest periods of time. So to you white folks who scream to us niggs just get a job stop being a thug and selling drugs just to survive get off welfare etc etc...etc etc etc...You tell me how by volunteering internships working for free ohh so back to being a slave...I know several nonblk ppl who were out of work for years and by choice because thy just didn't want to wrk and when thy go looking for jobs thy get jobs like nothing while blk ppl remain jobless. My 2 AAS degrees from CC just came in the mail and I ripped them both up and trashed them because they are no benefit to me. since 2007 I became a stay @ home father if I wld have known I wld never get a job again regardless of advancements in education my wife's job priorities for her job and random schedule at walmart would not have mattered to me. im blk my wife is Mexican and before 2007 I was the bread winner and working for years while she stay home half the years before our kids until I got fired we both applied to walmart and thy called her 3yrs of no employment but not me and she been holding it down ever since and is now a manager. I love my wife to death but to keep it real she's dum AF she refuses to help my 4th grade son with his homework when its math because its to hard ( no lie) she says and does dum spit on the daily and she the smartest one in her area at work. And among other department managers. Higher management is even more dum than she is true story some manager marked down 55" 1080p TV's for $50 by mistake suppose to be $500 they sold out in 30 min. (no blk Friday) and still keep his job after that. But those ppl are the better choice because they are already working please GTFOH total FBS...This bs makes me wanna kill myself because what hope is there for me but to now depend on my wife forever. meanwhile Obama 's focus is on some F'n illegal immigrants to be legal and work...OMG please help me...

February 14 2014 at 3:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Toki Sun

Oh, this is so sad to keep reading and hearing. Once upon a time you can apply and work the same week. Now it seems like the war on the unemployed. The real great asset of the workforce exchange system where businesses have turn their backs on. The unemployed applicant who is responding to your job ad is saying "they want to work for you" and have skills to back it up. They are not whining or making excuses, they want to work. The missing link to bringing back the economy is the "unemployed". Yes, it's frustrating and depressing to keep being rejected because I am NOT currently employed. It's also a fallacy to assume that because you've been out of work too long is lazy or not doing enough to get a job, or that your skills are invaluable, that's incorrect. Unemployment benefits is their right to have before they lost their job, they contributed into that system. Of course they want a job to help pay the bills, that's their right. To be criticized/penalized about receiving unemployments through no fault of their own for being on it, shuts them out of opportunities they qualify for is wrong. The same applicants who are currently employed, employers claim are more valuable are the same ones that will move on to a better paying job anyway, give them 3 years or less and watch. Even the staffing agencies are being picky about hiring people out of work too long because they have to respond to the needs of their clients. Their clients dictate you being able to be hired on a good assignment. It's an employer market and this shakedown has benefited many businesses to lower salary, benefits with higher skill sets--Wow! How can someone with no skills and experience qualify over someone who is unemployed with skills and experience? And the person who is currently employed looking for a better job, will require more money and probably a better boss. A unemployed person with skills and experience is looking for a job with great benefits, and don't care if they a have better boss--- want and need to work. How is that not valuable? A person with a felony doesn't fit into the problems that happening because the employer who is hiring them may not require a background check and it's poor wages involved -- how can expect a person to reenter into society and change their life make it on poor wages. Of course they will hire a felony. A felony background wouldn't traditionally get the same job with great benefits and salary because most companies require "must pass a background check" and no offense depending on the states--that's 85% or more of the population. No job is guaranteed today because of greed, even if you have one will someday face the issues like discussed on this board, layoff, shutdown, job elimination, force into retirement discrimination. All these depressing issues faced with getting back to work, makes me realize I don't want to be at the mercy of another employer again. Self-employment one way or another is the key.

February 14 2014 at 1:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

On the long term unemployed subject, I think there is plenty to discuss about personal character, God, politics, blame, resulting depression, lashing out at HR or others and the list goes on. There is no doubt that some people know and fear failure to get a job after a termination and the level of desperation to get a new job is different among us all. As the unemployment years pass, fear increases and faith (in God and yourself) decreases. I for one, have 8 kids from ages 25 down to 10. (autism and down syndrome too). I am 51. I have other income. My situation goes from desperate one month to not-so-desperate the next. Mostly though, employers do not know, nor can they predict "good employee character'' AND they don't know you the way you know you, right? HR establishes employee standards and there is nothing you can do about it. As a matter of fact; if you don't like the way a hiring manager acts towards you, that job would be bad anyway AND if they have poor or abusive methods of hiring, if you get the job, well, no complaints then, right? We all have personal situations and some are worse than mine, others not so much. It's all a matter of how well you handle the stress of ANY situation. If not for my other income, I would work a minimum wage job of whatever I can. Also remember, security jobs are mostly unskilled as are restaurant jobs and grocery and retail jobs. The larger the city, the more opportunity there is. its all a matter of what you're willing to do for money. Conditions of (un)employment such as location, experience, industry, your personal character, who you know, family name or associations, handicaps and above all, your level of motivation to get out and ask for a job will make ALL the difference. I speak the truth here. All other complaints, excuses and limits to your job search mean nothing. I babysit my special needs kids, if not me, then my wife. My lack of motivation to get out and get another job sits on my availability. If you have a Masters degree ( or other) and do not have a job in that field, you must travel and write letters to get one. There is no other way in a country such as ours where you can move around without permission!

January 07 2014 at 7:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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