Affirmative Action for Unemployed Workers: Will This Approach Work?

Photo by istockphoto.com
Photo by istockphoto.com

By John A. Gallagher

Over the past month, I have seen numerous studies discussing the abundance of jobs being posted online. Just today, I read that there were more jobs posted online than at any time since May 2005! Yet, the number of unemployed workers continues to grow at a staggering rate.

During this same time period, I have read a number of dismal reports which make clear that unemployed workers are not being considered for many (most?) of these job openings. This has led to large segments of our population remaining unemployed for lengthy periods of time, with seemingly little hope for future employment.

Continued unemployment for a large percentage of Americans is, of course, a major problem. In fact, I would posit that it is the single biggest problem facing our economy today.

Is there something we can do?

Notwithstanding, despite knowledge of the problem, and the gravity of the problem, nothing is being done to fix the problem. This is so even though it seems to be an acknowledged fact that we are in the midst of the most prolonged and serious unemployment crisis since the Great Depression.

In my view, something needs to be done, but what?

I have in the past opined that making discrimination against the unemployed illegal is an unworkable legal concept. I am an employee-side lawyer who specializes in asserting and protecting the rights of America’s workforce. So, believe me, if I thought such an anti-discrimination law would be practical or helpful, I would be on board.

What other options do we have? America’s companies have had plenty of time to invest in the unemployed, and clearly have chosen not to do so. So, given the gravity of the plight of the unemployed, and the effect that continuing unemployment has on our country, an Affirmative Action program is, to me, the best way to fix the problem.

An investment in America

Such a program at once is protective across the board, without regard to age, race, disability, or education. Yet, at the same time, can any of us truly deny that older workers, people with disabilities, minority workers, and undereducated workers are sometimes among the first to go when companies decide to cut their labor force?

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The wonderful thing, though, as that we need not get into any of that. All that we need to do is require companies to include a certain percentage of currently unemployed workers among all of their new hires over the next few years or so.

I am starting with a poll to see what fellow citizens think. Meanwhile, I am reaching out to some local leaders to figure out the pros and cons of such a program. When this spade work is done, I will seeking support for this idea at the state level in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and perhaps in Washington.

So, your thoughts and ideas are very important to me, and to what I hope will be a productive process. Please help me by taking my poll, and by posting your comments.

A grassroots approach will work, if we believe the best interests of our country are furthered by seeing the unemployed back at work. And, can anyone deny that is a good thing?

This was originally published on attorney John A. Gallagher’s Employment Law 101 blog.

John A. Gallagher, Esquire, is the president of the Gallagher Law Group, P.C., a Philadelphia-area law firm concentrating its practice almost exclusively on representing individuals with workplace issues. After 15 years of representing major corporations in employment litigation, John Gallagher opened his firm in 2006, and since that time has represented only employees. Contact him at jag@johnagallagher.com.

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