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Proposed Employment Law Would Create New Protected Class: The Unemployed 08/24/2011

Posted by Morse Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Employment, Legal Developments.
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Employment Attorney Bob SheaBy: Bob Shea

Bills recently introduced in both the U.S. House and Senate would make it illegal for employers and employment agencies to screen out unemployed job seekers. The proposed law, called the Fair Employment Opportunity Act of 2011, would make it unlawful for employers (1) to refuse to consider for employment or to offer employment to an individual because of the individual’s status as unemployed; (2) to publish in print, on the Internet, or in any other medium, an advertisement or announcement for any job that includes any provision stating or indicating that an individual’s status as unemployed disqualifies the individual for a job; or (3) to direct or request that an employment agency take an individual’s status as unemployed into account in screening or referring applicants for employment. Employers and employment agencies that violate the law would be liable to affected individuals for lost pay and benefits, other actual monetary losses, or a penalty of $1,000 per violation per day, whichever is greater, potential liquidated damages, as well as interest, attorney’s fees and costs. The House version of the bill can be found at OpenCongress.

Like other employment laws, the proposed legislation is well-intentioned. However, the legislation would significantly affect how businesses evaluate job candidates and would create a broad new source of employment-related legal claims. MBBP will follow the progress of the legislation.

For more information on this legislation, please contact Bob Shea.


1. FrankD - 09/08/2011

“However, the legislation would significantly affect how businesses evaluate job candidates”

That’s the point Bob, too many companies/HR departments are treating those laid off as if they were to blame. Almost everyone that I know has been laid off at one point or another in their careers. Companies experience setbacks just like people do.

I know that EVERY position gets hundreds of resumes, HR and hiring managers must do a better job of finding the BEST candidates without eliminating people who are not currently employed. Filtering out the unemployed is just lazy.

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