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Study shows Florida employers discriminating based on joblessness

Because of the economic recession of the last few years, many qualified and skilled individuals have nonetheless been unable to find or keep work. Ironically, some employers in South Florida are refusing to consider applicants simply because they don't already have a job.

Earlier this month, the National Employment Law Project (NELP) released the results of a study about online ads for employment. NELP discovered more than 150 job postings on major employment websites which engaged in employment discrimination based on current employment status.

Researchers with NELP looked at job postings from four major US job posting sites. These sites included Monster.com, CareerBuilder.com, Indeed.com and Craigslist.com. Of the 150 discriminatory ads that NELP discovered, about 125 postings listed the company by name. Most ads specified that the applicants "must be currently employed."

Several companies in South Florida were flagged for their employment-status discrimination, including a real estate company in Miami. The posting for their senior account job specified that applicants must be "currently or recently employed."

The head of finance for the company defends the posting, saying that it was not meant to discriminate. Rather, the company was looking for someone with senior-level accounting skills.

If asked, other companies might make similar excuses. But they should consider how these ads look to job seekers, as well as who they may offend or exclude by requiring applicants to be currently employed.

In addition to the recession, there are many other legitimate reasons for an applicant to be unemployed. For instance, some parents (especially mothers) choose to give up careers for a decade or more while they raise their children. Others have temporary health or family circumstances which did not allow them to work.

The bottom line is that joblessness is not an accurate indicator of an applicant's previous job performance. Therefore, discriminating on the basis of employment status is wrong and hurts both companies and potential employees.

Source: Sun-sentinel.com, "Discrimination against unemployed continues in online ad postings, study says," Marcia Heroux Pounds, 12 July 2011

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