Baltimore Sun (03/18/12) Eileen Ambrose
Maryland has joined a growing number of states considering legislation to prevent employers from discriminating against the unemployed. Maryland employment experts say that most employers want only to hire the best candidates, regardless of how long they have been out of work, and new legislation is not needed. Just how many people have their unemployment status held against them is not known. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says jobless workers are not a protected class, so the agency does not track such complaints.
Maryland’s legislation would add “employment status” to the list of criteria—such as race, age, and religion—that employers cannot use to discriminate against workers. A hearing on the bill is scheduled for March 20. The Maryland Chamber of Commerce opposes the bill and says that while “[e]mployment status is not a factor in the hiring process…job skills are a legitimate factor to evaluate a candidate for employment.”