For employers evaluating applicants, one crucial factor can be relevant job experience. But employers should be wary about disqualifying applicants based on the fact that they may not be currently employed. Several states and cities have adopted legislation aimed at helping unemployed workers secure employment. Around the country, local restrictions have been placed on the ability of employers to refuse to consider or hire people because they are unemployed. At least 5 states and cities have passed laws in the last few years prohibiting discrimination against unemployed job applicants, including Madison, Wisconsin, New York City, the District of Columbia as well as New Jersey and Oregon. For our earlier alerts on the New Jersey and New York laws, click HERE and HERE.
Most recently, a bill has been introduced in Congress entitled the “Fair Employment Opportunity Act of 2014” which aims to prohibit discrimination on the basis of an individual’s status or history of unemployment, except where a requirement related to employment status is a bona fide occupational qualification reasonably necessary to successful performance in the job.
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