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Lawmakers Move to Ban Discrimination Against Unemployed Individuals in Hiring

American Staffing Association (02/08/12) Anne Duffy

Federal and state lawmakers continue to pursue legislation that would declare as unlawful discrimination the use of job advertisements stating that only “currently employed” candidates are eligible to apply for a position. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has held that such practice could violate EEO laws by having a discriminatory disparate impact on protected classes of unemployed individuals.

The Fair Employment Opportunity Act, introduced in August 2011, would make it unlawful for an employment firm to refuse to consider or refer an individual for employment based on the individual’s status as unemployed or to classify individuals in any manner that may limit their access to information about jobs because of their status as unemployed. The bill would also prohibit publishing an advertisement or announcement for any job vacancy that includes any provision indicating that an individual’s status as unemployed disqualifies the individual for a job.

New Jersey is so far the only state to prohibit employers from discriminating against unemployed individuals, but similar bills have been introduced in several states and more are expected to introduce such legislation throughout the year.