A quarter of a million petition signatures gathered in an online campaign urging major job websites to stop posting ads online specifically excluding unemployed job seekers were delivered to Congress Wednesday in support of legislation – the ‘Fair Employment Opportunity Act of 2011’ (S. 1471) – that would end the practice by employers, recruiters, and staffing firms of refusing to consider unemployed workers for jobs, according to a blog from Unemployedworkers.org. The sponsors of the legislation, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Representatives Rosa DeLauro (CT-3) and Hank Johnson, Jr. (GA-4), have called for bipartisan support for their measure.
The 250,000 petitions were gathered by groups including US Action, Change.org, ColorofChange.org, and CREDO Action in response to a July 2011 Briefing Paper from the National Employment Law Project (NELP) – “Hiring Discrimination Against the Unemployed: Federal Bill Outlaws Excluding the Unemployed from Job Opportunities, as Discriminatory Ads Persist” – that documented job postings on websites such as CareerBuilder.com that excluded jobless workers from employment opportunities and expressly denied job opportunities to workers hardest hit by the economic downturn. Another Unemployedworkers.org blog cited the following examples of ads that discriminated against unemployed job seekers:
- An ad for a Medical Sales Rep job stated applicants “MUST BE CURRENTLY EMPLOYED” and also that “If you are not currently in medical sales and choose to apply, you will not be given the opportunity of an interview and your resume will be deleted.”
- An ad for Restaurant Managers indicated that to qualify applicants “must be currently employed.”
- An ad for a Corrugated Packing Sales Rep job required applicants to be “currently employed within the Distribution Packaging Jan/san industry.”
- An ad for a Restaurant Management job specified candidates “must be currently employed or not out of the restaurant business for more than 3 months.”
As reported in the ESR News Blog ‘Fair Employment Opportunity Act Bill in Senate would Prohibit Discrimination against Unemployed Jobseekers,’ the ‘Fair Employment Opportunity Act of 2011’ (S. 1471) would bar employers and employment agencies from screening out or excluding job applicants solely because they are out of work. Key provisions of the Fair Employment Opportunity Act of 2011 for employers (with 15 or more employees) and employment agencies would include:
- (a) Employers – It shall be an unlawful practice for an employer to – (1) fail or refuse to consider for employment, or fail or refuse to hire, an individual as an employee, because of the individual’s status as unemployed; (2) publish in print, on the Internet, or in any other medium, an advertisement or announcement for an employee for any job that includes – (A) any provision stating or indicating that an individual’s status as unemployed disqualifies the individual for a job; (B) any provision stating or indicating that an employer will not consider or hire an individual for employment based on that individual’s status as unemployed; (3) direct or request that an employment agency take an individual’s status as unemployed into account in considering, screening, or referring applicants for employment as an employee.
- (b) Employment Agencies – It shall be an unlawful practice for an employment agency to – (1) fail or refuse to consider, screen, or refer an individual for employment as an employee based on the individual’s status as unemployed; (2) limit, segregate, or classify individuals in any manner that may limit their access to information about jobs, or consideration, screening, or referral for jobs, as employees, because of their status as unemployed;(3) publish, in print or on the Internet or in any other medium, an advertisement or announcement for any vacancy in a job, as an employee, that includes – (A) any provision stating or indicating that an individual’s status as unemployed disqualifies the individual for a job; and (B) any provision stating or indicating that an employer will not consider or hire an individual for employment based on that individual’s status as unemployed.
- (c) Interference With Rights, Proceedings or Inquiries – It shall be unlawful for any employer or employment agency to – (1) interfere with, restrain, or deny the exercise of or the attempt to exercise, any right provided under this Act; or (2) fail or refuse to hire, to discharge, or in any other manner to discriminate against any individual, as an employee, because such individual – (A) opposed any practice made unlawful by this Act; (B) has filed any charge, or has instituted or caused to be instituted any proceeding, under or related to this Act; (C) has given, or is about to give, any information in connection with any inquiry or proceeding relating to any right provided under this Act; or (D) has testified, or is about to testify, in any inquiry or proceeding relating to any right provided under this Act.
- (d) Bona Fide Occupational Qualification – Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, consideration by an employer or employment agency of an individual’s status as unemployed shall not be an unlawful employment practice under this Act if an individual’s employment in a similar or related job for a period of time reasonably proximate to the hiring of such individual is a bona fide occupational qualification reasonably necessary to successful performance in the job that is being filled.
For the full text of the ‘Fair Employment Opportunity Act of 2011’ (S. 1471), visit http://www.opencongress.org/bill/112-s1471/text.
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