HR News & Trends

Pennsylvania Moving to Ban Discrimination Against Unemployed

unemployment discrimination

By Eric B. Meyer

In 2011, New Jersey passed a law banning discrimination against the unemployed. Will Pennsylvania follow suit in 2013?

The ball is rolling….

The Pennsylvania House introduced its own unemployment-discrimination bill on January 22, 2013, and you can view a copy of it here.

Here’s the Cliffs Notes version:

  • Employers CAN’T use one’s unemployment as a negative factor when considering candidates for job openings.
  • However, employers CAN consider an individual’s employment history or factual and objective reasons underlying an individual’s unemployment status in assessing an individual’s ability to perform the vacant job.
  • Employers CAN’T advertise anything resembling “unemployed need not apply.”
  • However, employers CAN assess whether an individual’s employment in a similar or related job for a period of time reasonably proximate to the consideration of the individual for employment is consistent with industry practice and necessary to successful performance of the vacant job

Employers that violate the law face fines and potential civil litigation. The statute of limitations is 2 years and taking adverse action against an individual within 90 days of the person’s exercise of rights protected under the Act raises a rebuttable presumption of retaliation.

This was originally published on Eric B. Meyer’s blog, The Employer Handbook.

Eric B. Meyer is a partner in the Labor and Employment Group of the Philadelphia-based law firm of Dilworth Paxson LLP . He dedicates his practice to litigating and assisting employers on labor and employment issues affecting the workplace, including collective bargaining, discrimination, employee handbook policies, enforcement of restrictive covenants, and trade secret protection. Eric also serves as a volunteer mediator for the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Contact him at emeyer@dilworthlaw.com .
  • Texas native

    Employers will find a way around this – they always do! These things look good on paper but in practice they really don’t help someone get a job.

  • http://twitter.com/LisaGemini Lisa Cunningham

    This is all well and good but I agree with Texas native. It’s not like an employer will ever tell you why he’s not hiring you. They aren’t usually that stupid. And then you have to prove your case.

  • http://www.facebook.com/leon.duminiak Leon Duminiak

    Doesn’t existing federal non-descrimination law already prohibit employers from using unjustified requirements in hiring and promotion? Do we really need another law?

  • Jacque Vilet

    Easy way out for employers is to do what they do for other discrimination claims: “We found somebody who was more qualified”. End of story.

  • Noreen

    I’m with Texas native and Jacque. Some employers get around that like
    they get around everything else–like discrimination. It doesn’t really
    help in the end. How can it be enforced? Exactly!