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Proposed California law hopes to stop bias against the unemployed

As the economy continues to keep unemployment rates high, many states are looking to add laws that forbid discriminating against people who have been unemployed for a long time. Proposed legislation in California will fine businesses that discriminate against unemployed people, either while posting a job or while making their hiring decisions.

For the past two years, 40 percent of people looking for work – 5.5 million – have been unemployed for six months or more. 4 million have been unemployed for more than a year. Such rates have not been this high since the late 1940s.

Economists claim that every additional month a person is unemployed makes him or her even less likely to obtain a job. Many job seekers eventually give up the hunt.

State lawmakers report seeing discrimination in a number of various forms:

  • Recruiters telling job seekers not to bother submitting an application unless they are already employed
  • Public advertisements prohibiting unemployed workers from applying
  • Hiring authorities passing over or blatantly rejecting unemployed applicants

Although many states do not propose to force businesses to hire the unemployed, they want to ensure that every applicant is fairly considered for the available jobs, no matter how long he or she has been unemployed. California lawmakers plan to impose fines of $1,000 or more against companies found discriminating against unemployed job applicants during any step of the hiring process.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, “Measures Aim to End Bias Against Long-Term Jobless,” Shelly Banjo, 2/24/12

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