Economy
4:02 pm
Thu July 14, 2011

Bill would ban employers from discriminating against unemployed applicants

You have to have a job in order to get a job at some companies in America -- and it’s not against the law for them to say that right in their employment ad.

State Rep. Jim Ananich, D-Flint, has proposed a bill that would forbid discrimination against the unemployed.

“I just assumed that was something that wouldn’t be held against somebody," Ananich says. "Usually when you’re applying for a job, it’s because you don’t have one. So to tell someone that they can’t even be an applicant just doesn’t seem fair.”

New Jersey has already passed a law that outlaws the have-a-job-to-get-a-job practice.

However, Ananich admits it would be hard to monitor whether companies and employment agencies actually comply with such a law.

An informal survey by National Employment Law Project found several job-posting Websites, including CareerBuilder.com and Indeed.com, conspicuously stated that job seekers "must be currently employed."

NELP Executive Director Christine Owens testified on the trend before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission earlier this year.

"This practice is a perverse Catch-22," Owens says. "And it means highly qualified, experienced workers who want and need work can't get past the starting gate in the application process simply because they lost their jobs through no fault of their own."

Data released this week by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows more than five unemployed workers for every job opening as of May.

The BLS says nearly 6.3 million workers --over 44 percent of all unemployed -- have been out of work for six months or longer.