Businesses are refusing to hire the unemployed, commission told
Being unemployed is, for many, not fun. There are no co-workers to mock at the water cooler, no expense accounts on which to wine and dine associates and no impressive title to drop when you're trying to pick up the ladies (or men, for that matter).
Now there's a growing trend of employers refusing to consider the unemployed for job openings, according to a number of people who testified before the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Wednesday. They say that employers are barring the unemployed from job openings, which is particularly unfair to older workers and African Americans because more of them are unemployed.
"Excluding unemployed workers from employment opportunities is unfair to workers, bad for the economy, and potentially violates basic civil rights protections because of the disparate impact on older workers, workers of color, women and others," said Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project, in her testimony.
Several examples of discriminatory help-wanted ads were offered: a Texas electronics company said online that it would "not consider/review anyone NOT currently employed regardless of the reason"; an ad for a restaurant manager position in New Jersey said applicants must be employed; a phone manufacturer's job announcement said "No Unemployed Candidates Will Be Considered At All," according to Helen Norton, associate professor at the University of Colorado School of Law.
Even if the companies pull the language from their ads, many still discriminate against the unemployed, Owens said. The long-term unemployed are perhaps in the worst shape; employers worry that their skills are outdated and pass over them for positions, which means they are unemployed for even longer and have more difficulty finding work.
“The use of an individual’s current or recent unemployment status as a hiring selection device is a troubling development in the labor market,” said Fatima Goss Graves, vice president for education and employment at the National Women’s Law Center.
More than 6 million Americans have been unemployed for more than 27 weeks. The unemployment rate for African Americans is 15.7%, compared with a U.S. unemployment rate of 9%.
-- Alana Semuels
Photo: Job hunting in a tough job market is tougher when you're unemployed. Credit: Napalm filled tires via Flickr