Unemployment Discrimination

A recent TalentManagement.com article from Deanna Hartley, associate editor for Talent Management magazine, shows that even though recruiting efforts are increasing, the pool of candidates is smaller. Why? It seems as though many organizations are stipulating that a candidate must be currently employed or has not been laid off in the past.

The running idea behind this tactic is that an unemployed candidate must be damaged goods. This is not always the case. For instance, the last round of layoffs in many organizations were due to the economic recession and lack of work – not that the employee was unworthy of the job.

According to Kathleen McLeod Caminiti, partner with Fisher & Phillips LLP, the recent rounds of layoffs weren’t necessarily directly related to employees’ job performance or skill set. In many instances, it may have been about how their particular company or industry was handling the recession.

Are there particular groups of people that are more susceptible to the effects of recent layoffs? Why, yes! Older workers take longer to find new jobs after layoffs than younger workers. The employment rate for African-Americans is lower than for whites. And also, people with disabilities have higher rates of unemployment than the general population.

As a talent manager, you must be careful with this trend of not hiring the unemployed. There is a possibility that lawsuits may ensue! If an employee feels as though they were not hired because they were discriminated against, they can technically sue you. “Your defense is you need to be able to articulate a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for the hiring decisions,” Caminiti said. “Whether there’s a legitimate business reason behind having a policy of not hiring [the] unemployed, I’m not sure anyone has really been forced to articulate that.”

Talent managers should also pay attention to what is known as the disparate impact theory:

“That basically means if you’ve got a facially neutral policy that has a statistically disproportionate impact on a protected class – Hispanics, African-Americans, the disabled – that potentially could present a problem and a lawsuit pursued on a disparate impact theory of discrimination,” Caminiti said.

Sooner than later, discrimination against the unemployed will be illegal as well. A bill has already been proposed in Congress. But for talent managers to be most efficient, why not look at the benefits of the unemployed talent pool? These employees could become your organization’s  top talent and most loyal workers.

“The unemployed are less likely to aggressively negotiate for salary and perks because they’re going to be happy to have a job,” Caminiti said. “If you’re hiring somebody from another company or competitor, they’re looking for better opportunities and you’re facing the ‘grass is always greener’ problem.”

Utilizing the unemployed talent pool may benefit your organization beyond your imagination. There are several risks and factors to be considered in this time of unease. To learn more, click here for the full article.

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