Unemployed - A New Protected Characteristic?


The following does not depict an actual interview. Rather, it is a fictitious illustration (at least for now).

Interviewer: So tell me why you’re interviewing for the position we’ve advertised.

Interviewee: That’s an easy one. Because I’m unemployed and I need a job...

The American Jobs Act recently proposed by President Obama in fact includes within it (at Subtitle D) “Prohibition of Discrimination in Employment on the Basis of an Individual’s Status as Unemployed,” cited as the “Fair Employment Opportunity Act of 2011”. As written, the proposed statute would apply to employers with 15 or more employees, and include the same procedures as applicable to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), including the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (“EEOC”) role with respect to administration and enforcement. (The EEOC’s recent campaign against unemployment discrimination on the basis of an alleged disparate impact on minority, older and disabled workers provides on interesting backdrop to the proposed legislation.) Title VII’s remedies would be available as well.

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