Unemployed Need Not Apply: EEOC Considers Discrimination Against Jobless

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Recently, the EEOC held an open meeting to “examine treatment of unemployed job seekers.” During the meeting, several witnesses presented testimony on what some view as a growing problem in the current economy – discrimination against the jobless. The impetus for the meeting started as early as May of 2010, when employment organizations first noticed job postings that explicitly discriminated against the unemployed. These postings ranged from requirements that the person have been employed in the last six months to specific announcements that “no unemployed candidates will be considered at all.”

While some witnesses disputed whether such postings were indicative of any trend, others presented actual postings of such explicit discrimination and testimony that the discrmination is more widespread on an implicit level. The concern with such blanket exclusions is that they have a disparate impact on certain protected groups that currently suffer from unemployment rates well above the national rate of 9%. For example, a representative from the National Employment Law Project presented data at the meeting that the unemployment rate for African Americans was 15.7% in January 2011. Hispanics also have an unemployment rate several percentage points higher than the national rate.

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