Discriminating Against Unemployed Workers? There Ought to Be a Law

By John A. Gallagher

This article from the Huffington Post is stunning, and makes clear to me that companies are actively avoiding hiring unemploymed workers for vacant job openings.

We have over the past months read about how more and more job openings are being posted online, while at the same time reading that,

  1. Unemployment rates at best remain constant; and,
  2. Fewer and fewer jobs are actually being filled each month.

What is the only conclusion one can reach? Companies are looking to hire only people who are currently employed.

“Many good people are out of work”

Why? The reason, I hypothesize, is that those who have remained employed throughout the recession are viewed as “the cream of the crop.”

As someone who represents unemployed people each and every day, I can say that is not always true. Many good people are out of work due to layoff or reduction in force. Others were the victims of poor managers, who lack the skills to lead, and the emotional maturity to work well with others.

Other factors working against the unemployed? Many companies are now refusing to hire anyone who has filed for bankruptcy, and are similarly opposed to hiring people with bad credit. The most likely victims of such financial calamities? The unemployed.

What can be done?

Article Continues Below

Affirmative Action for the unemployed?

Not long ago, TLNT.com posted an article of mine wherein I posited that making discrimination against the unemployed illegal is unworkable, and I still feel that way. However, I believe it is time that our leaders in Congress consider something akin to Affirmative Action where the unemployed “workforce” is concerned. Simply stated, companies should be required to hire X number of unemployed workers for every Y number of new hires they make.

The numbers are staggering. The published unemployment rate is 9 percent. Nearly 14 million Americans are unemployed. Of those, more than 6 million (45 percent) have been unemployed for more than 26 weeks (which, according to CBS News, is a higher percentage than at any time since the Great Depression). Some 5 million have been out of work for more than 52 weeks, and nearly 2 million Americans have been out of work for more than 99 weeks.

How can our country grow with these staggering unemployment numbers? I believe an Affirmative Action program for unemployed workers is the only solution to the current trend of refusing to hire the unemployed, which appears to be gathering steam. If companies are really so desperate for new help, there are lots of qualified workers anxiously sitting on the sidelines and ready to pitch in today.

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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