New Hiring Bias Bill Proposed to Protect Unemployed

In an economy when many U.S. workers are unemployed, how do talent managers know when to pay attention to out-of-work candidates over currently employed candidates? According to a new blog article from The New York author Robert Pear, President Obama has proposed a way to protect unemployed individuals from this hiring bias.

President Obama hasn’t been the most successful at stimulating or creating new jobs. However, he may have found a way to get the out-of-work back into the workforce. This new bill would keep employers from discriminating against candidates because they are currently unemployed. This proposal would make it “an unlawful employment practice” for a business with 15+ employees to refuse to hire a potential candidate “because of the individual’s status as unemployed.”

If the bill were violated, turned-away applicants could sue the organization just like when an organization refuses hiring due to an applicant’s race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

Mr. Obama’s proposal would also prohibit employment agencies and Web sites from carrying advertisements for job openings that exclude people who are unemployed. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has received reports of such advertisements but has not data to show how common they are.

Some, including Republicans, don’t think that this bill is necessary because this sort of discrimination is not common. Some argue that this bill would classify the unemployed as a new protected class. Some also see this as a way that the unemployed can file claims for simply not being qualified for the position in question. The statistics are noteworthy: The Labor Department reports that 14 million people are unemployed. Around 43 percent (six million people) are classified as long-term unemployed. And of that group, approximately 4.5 million have been unemployed for a year or more. The time span of this unemployed group ranges from 40 weeks to more than 60 years.

Skills often atrophy when a person is out of work, and White House officials said that discrimination could worsen the problem, creating a class of people who could be left behind as the economy recovers. Under Mr. Obama’s proposal, the employment commission would be given new power to enforce the proposed ban on discrimination against the jobless.

This proposal can offer employers a little leeway in the hiring department. When deciding if an unemployed candidate is right for the position, careful inspection of past job performance and skill sets can shine some light on how the candidate could perform within the open position. If the previous work experience and skill sets are relevant to why the candidate is currently unemployed, this information will speak for itself. To read more about how President Obama’s proposed bill can effect your organization’s hiring policies, click here to read the full article.

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