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Proposed federal law would prohibit discrimination against unemployed job seekers

A recent study found that discrimination against the unemployed is a prevalent occurrence in online job ad postings. The study examined the job ads on four major Internet job sites: CareerBuilder.com, Indeed.com, Monster.com and Craigslist.com. According to the Sun Sentinel, the study found more than 150 job ads where the employer specifically said that being currently employed was a requirement for the position.

Job ads generally list required skills and level of education and other requirements for the job, but many federal and state employment laws prohibit employers from discriminating against potential applicants in different ways, such as requiring a certain sex, national origin or religion. The practice of discriminating against unemployed job applicants no doubt has added to the difficulty that people who have lost jobs in a tough economy have faced in becoming employed again.

Now, two members of Congress have proposed a new federal law, the "Fair Employment Opportunity Act of 2011," that would prohibit employers from discriminating against job applicants simply because they are currently unemployed.

The employers were so bold in their discrimination against the unemployed that the study found that 125 out of the 150 included the name of the company along with the requirement that job seekers "must be currently employed."

A new federal law that prohibits this type of discrimination might change the bold nature of the discriminatory practice but, like other forms of employment discrimination, it does not mean that it will go away. It is important that workers and unemployed job seekers know their rights so that they can better identify illegal discrimination in the workplace and protect their rights.

Source: Sun Sentinel, "Discrimination against unemployed continues in online ad postings, study says," Marcia Heroux Pounds, 12 July 2011

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