With a national unemployment rate of 9 percent, and millions more Americans not being included in that statistic, there needs to be a mechanism to ensure that job seekers don't run up against barriers simply due to their lack of employment. This is especially important for the more than 2 million Americans who have been out of work for 99 weeks or longer.
According to the New York Times, the Obama administration is looking to put that sort of safeguard in place via their jobs plan, which the President has been actively promoting across the country.
The newspaper is reporting that the plan proposes making it illegal for job applicants to be discriminated against or excluded from consideration for a position due to their being unemployed. The bill, if passed, would also prevent job agencies and web sites from blocking unemployed applicants from certain jobs, which is currently taking place, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The proposed provisions in the jobs bill would allow people to file suit against an employer for discrimination due to unemployment and recover damages. Only employers with 15 or more employees would be vulnerable to such legal action under the President's plan, which was modeled, in part, after one proposed by two Connecticut Democrats. One of them says such provisions are necessary for America's unemployed workers, especially now.
"In a tough job market, where workers are competing against tens and sometimes hundreds of people for every available job opening, it is unjust for employers to discriminate against those who are unemployed," U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro told the Times.
Considering the fact that there are currently only a little more than 3 million job openings for the more than 14 million unemployed Americans looking for work, human resources managers will undoubtedly be inundated with resumes from unemployed people looking for work. For those people to be overlooked simply because they are out of work will only make matters worse. According to White House officials, discrimination against the unemployed could "creat[e] a class of people who could be left behind as the economy recovers," reports the New York Times.
But Republicans don't seem to be as enthused about the safeguard to prevent unemployment discrimination because it could lead to increased litigation against businesses.
"If you’re unemployed and you go to apply for a job, and you’re not hired for that job, see a lawyer," said Texas Republican Louie Gohmert. "You may be able to file a claim because you got discriminated against because you were unemployed ... This will help trial lawyers who are not having enough work."
What do you think? Is there a better way to ensure that the nation's unemployed, especially those who have been out of work long term, are neither discriminated against nor encounter job listings that state: "no unemployed candidates will be considered"?