Democrats’ Bill Would Prohibit New Type of Discrimination

Democrats are currently pushing a bill, the Fair Employment Opportunity Act, through Congress that would prohibit both employers and employment agencies from discriminating against jobless applicants.  The bill, among other prohibitions, would prohibit employers and employment agencies from using language in job postings which requires applicants to have current employment or that unemployed individuals should not apply.  Do you or your employment agency have similar language?

Here are some examples:

1) Ohio Salesperson Posting – “must be currently employed

2) California Kitchen Manager Posting – “require current (or very recent) tenure

3) New York Assistant Posting – “currently employed on a permanent basis”                       

Employers or employment agencies found to violate the proposed law would be liable to applicants for any monetary losses incurred by the applicant or a civil penalty of $1,000 per violation per day, whichever is greater.

The bill does not, however make the unemployed a “protected class” under anti-discrimination statutes.  The bill is focused on recruiting and hiring decisions which are related to the applicants’ employment status. 

This issue has been on several agencies’ radar. In February 2011, the EEOC probed into the situation at an open forum.  Also, New Jersey enacted a statute that prohibits employment status discrimination.  Similar New York legislation is currently pending.  This bill, however, would cover almost all employers in any state with 15 or more employees.

The bill has received support from President Obama. Due to these new potential prohibitions, employers and employment agencies need to ensure to watch for updates as this bill progresses through Congress.

For more information, please contact Patrick Peters at ppeters@beneschlaw.com or (216) 363-4434.

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