Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) recently introduced the Fair Employment Opportunity Act of 2011, legislation that will make it illegal for employers and employment agencies to unfairly discriminate against unemployed job seekers, a counterproductive practice that persists in spite of high unemployment rates. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) are original co-sponsors of the legislation and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT, 3rd District) has introduced a companion bill in the House of Representatives.
Senator Blumenthal said, “As our economy continues to recover, the unemployment rate remains unacceptably high – and unfair hiring practices bar unemployed individuals from applying for open positions, further eroding the hopes of the 14 million Americans without jobs across the United States. This bill will explicitly prohibit employers from engaging in discriminatory hiring and ensure that unemployed job seekers receive fair consideration for job openings, giving a much-needed boost to those in Connecticut and across the country who are struggling to find gainful employment during these difficult economic times.”
“Losing your job through no fault of your own should never disqualify you from finding a new job,” Senator Gillibrand said. “If we’re ever going to get our economy back on stable ground, we need to create more jobs for all Americans who are ready to work. This legislation would keep employers from discriminating against victims of this economic recession, and give all job seekers a fair chance at a paycheck so they can make ends meet and provide for their families.”
Said Senator Brown, “The best way to get our economy back on track is also the best way to reduce our deficit: putting people back to work. There are millions of Americans who would rather be paying taxes than collecting unemployment insurance. Americans who work hard and play by the rules - but lose a job through no fault of their own – deserve a fair chance at the next one.”
In a recent report, the National Employment Law Project (NELP) uncovered the persistent practice of excluding candidates based on their employment status. While the unemployment rate hovers around 9.2%, unemployed workers are struggling to compete often with hundreds of others for every available job opening without the additional hurdle of hiring discrimination.