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What You Don’t Know CAN Hurt You – Part II

Last year I wrote a blog post titled What You Don't Know CAN Hurt You! highlighting the practice of discriminatory hiring practices against unemployed job applicants.  The post was quite popular, getting over 33,000 page views. This is a follow-up to that post. 

It turns out that this practice has become so wide-spread that a recent Survey by the National Employment Law Project found more than 150 online job postings that required candidates to be “currently employed.  These postings appeared on prominent job listing websites across the Nation.   As a former recruiter, I know absolutely that this is just the tip of the iceburg.  Most discriminatory hiring practices like this are NOT mentioned in the job posting, of course!  All you would need to do is screen out resumes that don’t show a recent job history; simple as pie!  I have my suspicions that screening out the long-term unemployed is simply a convenient method for reducing the workload associated with the hiring process (ie: laziness).

And, as I mentioned in my post about this last year, doing that kind of screening could adversely impact minorities, women, and especially older candidates.  I feel this practice would also contribute to the demise of our ever declining Middle Class, since eliminating those candidates could easily result in further outsourcing of jobs to other countries.  And it would patently create a group of unemployable people (this may have already happened to many of our country’s workers – sadly!)

There is a movement to make this practice illegal; it is currently banned in New Jersey

On the Federal Level Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) introduced the Fair Employment Opportunity Act of 2011, which levels the playing field for unemployed jobseekers by prohibiting employers and employment agencies from refusing to consider job applicants solely because they are unemployed.  According the Huffington Post, California might be the next State to outlaw this practice

While I agree that it is wrong (and possibly counter-productive since you could be missing the best candidates!) on so many levels to screen candidates this way, I am just not sure that creating a whole new category of discriminatory behavior to monitor is the best answer.  My primary reason for this conclusion is very pragmatic: It would be almost impossible to enforce, and I believe this problem is temporary. Also, it is just not the same kind of discrimination as being a minority, or a worker over 40.  I think focusing on this aspect of our economic crisis would not be as productive as helping to retrain the long-term unemployed and creating new jobs for them, instead of allowing them to sue potential employers.  I am curious to hear what others think, particularly recruiters out there!

Post written by HRmarketer staff member, Dawn Passaro.  Dawn has over 15 years experience as a human resources professional specializing in small to midsize high tech companies. Dawn's postings on this site are her own and don't necessarily represent the opinions of HRmarketer or other staff members.

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