In this preview of an article from Issue XXIV, Volume 6 of the PLUS Journal (June 2011), author Robert G Chadwick, Jr. looks at how the EEOC views potential discrimination as it relates to the hiring (or not hiring) of unemployed job seekers.

Is It Unlawful to Shun Unemployed Job-Seekers in Recruiting and Hiring?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate in April 2011 was 9%, but the rates were significantly higher for certain groups:

  • African Americans – 16.1%
  • Disabled persons – 14.5%
  • Hispanics – 11.8%
  • Women with families – 11.7% (not seasonally adjusted)

Given these statistics, it is not surprising that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has been on the lookout for potentially discriminatory recruiting and hiring practices by employers.  In the past several months, this focus has included employers which shun unemployed job-seekers in favor of employed job-seekers. Amongst the employer practices being scrutinized are (1) ads, job postings and recruiter searches which discourage or bar inquiries from the jobless, and (2) the use of unemployment status as a negative criterion in hiring decisions. 

So what does this attention mean for employers who prefer or restrict recruitment and hiring to candidates who are already employed elsewhere?  Under appropriate circumstances, it could mean potential liability under discrimination laws enforced by the EEOC.

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