We have previously written about a worrying trend in national hiring practices over the past few years. Despite the high numbers of long-term unemployment caused by the recession, a growing number of employers have been engaging in employment status discrimination.
This means they are only willing to hire candidates who already have a job or those facing only recent unemployment. But unlike gender or race discrimination, employment status discrimination is currently legal. Thankfully, legislation proposed in Florida and elsewhere may soon be changing that.
About a dozen states have recently introduced legislation to ban discrimination against the unemployed, specifically the long-term unemployed. Because these statistics are not tracked by the EEOC, it is difficult to know just how many Americans have faced this type of discrimination during the hiring process.
But according to related national statistics, just less than half of unemployed Americans have been jobless for at least six months. This amounts to about 5.4 million people who could be potential victims of employment status discrimination.
The proposed anti-discrimination laws vary by state. Some states seek to ban employers from posting in job ads that the unemployed need not apply. However, some employment experts believe this does not go far enough.
A representative with the National Employment Law Project says: "It's not just a problem with ads. The ads are surface-level. This kind of discrimination permeates all levels of the hiring process. ... It's really important that the legislation get at those levels of discrimination as well."
Of course, individual employers and chambers of commerce are often critical of such proposed legislation, calling it unnecessary. But qualified workers who haven't been able to find a job since the recession started see the problem from a much different angle.
As one unemployed woman recently said, "There are a lot of people unemployed right now, and people screening the resumes are trying to cut down on the resumes they screen. It's not fair."
Source: Baltimore Sun, "Md. legislation targets employer bias against unemployed," Eileen Ambrose, Mar. 18, 2012