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Unemployed face discrimination when applying for jobs in the U.S.

San Diego residents who are looking for jobs may be aware of state and federal employment laws that make it illegal for employers to discriminate against potential job applicants based on an applicant’s race, sex, disability, age or religion. But can an employer refuse to hire an individual simply because the applicant has been out of work for an extended period of time?

High unemployment rates continue to plague U.S. workers who were laid off during the recession and still looking for new work. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, nearly 13 million Americans remained unemployed as of February. Landing a job has certainly been tough for many individuals, but those who have been unemployed for months or years claim that they are finding it to be even more difficult to find work because employers do not want to hire individuals who have been unemployed for a long period of time.

One woman who was laid off for over 13 months told the Washington Post that she applied for a job that she was qualified for and was even contacted by a recruiter to schedule an interview. However, when the recruiter learned that she had been unemployed for more than six months, the interview was canceled.

Bias against the jobless has become a concerning issue that many states are attempting to address. The National Conference of State Legislatures reported earlier this year that California and several other states were attempting to pass new laws that would ban employers from preventing the unemployed from applying for open positions.

However, proving that an employer has discriminated against an applicant simply because the applicant has been out of work can be challenging. One professional noted that those who have been unemployed for a long period of time might seem too desperate for a job or not very interested in a particular position. Employers also might argue that they want to hire employees who have held stable and consistent jobs.

While employers may still be able to take an applicant’s unemployment status under consideration during the interview process, professionals suggest that the unemployed keep their resumes current by volunteering or using other skills in the community.

Source: The Washington Post, “As high unemployment persists, states seek to protect jobless against claims of hiring bias,” March 23, 2012


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