Outten & Golden: Empowering Employees in the Workplace

Help Fight Discrimination Against the Unemployed

August 23rd, 2011 | James Parks

Image: James ParksSome 25 million Americans are unemployed, underemployed or have stopped looking for work, and wages are essentially flat. Workers are struggling to get the few jobs that are available—there are 4.7 unemployed people for every one job open.

As if those odds weren’t difficult enough, jobless workers face another obstacle: Many employers are discriminating against the jobless by prohibiting them from even applying for open positions. Their “Help Wanted” signs come with a caveat—if you are unemployed, you need not apply.

American Rights at Work alerts to an action by the advocacy group USAction, which is taking a stand against this unfair policy. Click here to sign a petition and join USAction in asking the popular job search sites CareerBuilder and Monster.com to stop promoting ads for companies that discriminate against the unemployed.

Last month, The New York Times reported that its review of job vacancy postings on sites like Monster.com, CareerBuilder and Craigslist revealed:

hundreds that said employers would consider (or at least “strongly prefer”) only people currently employed or just recently laid off.

The National Employment Law Project (NELP) also released a report last month that found:

employers and staffing firms continue to expressly deny job opportunities to those workers hardest hit by the economic downturn, despite increased scrutiny and strong public opposition to the practice.

The report coincided with the introduction in the House of the Fair Employment Opportunity Act of 2011, a measure sponsored by Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) to create a level playing field for unemployed job seekers by prohibiting employers and employment agencies from screening out or excluding job applicants solely because they are unemployed.

This blog originally appeared in AFL-CIO Now Blog on August 22,2011. Reprinted with permission.

bout the Author: James Parks – My first encounter with unions was at Gannett’s newspaper in Cincinnati when my colleagues in the newsroom tried to organize a unit of The Newspaper Guild. I saw firsthand how companies pull out all the stops to prevent workers from forming a union. I am a journalist by trade, and I worked for newspapers in five different states before joining the AFL-CIO staff in 1990. I also have been a seminary student, drug counselor, community organizer, event planner, adjunct college professor and county bureaucrat. My proudest career moment, though, was when I served, along with other union members and staff, as an official observer for South Africa’s first multiracial elections.

About the Author: James Parks My first encounter with unions was at Gannett’s newspaper in Cincinnati when my colleagues in the newsroom tried to organize a unit of The Newspaper Guild. I saw firsthand how companies pull out all the stops to prevent workers from forming a union. I am a journalist by trade, and I worked for newspapers in five different states before joining the AFL-CIO staff in 1990. I also have been a seminary student, drug counselor, community organizer, event planner, adjunct college professor and county bureaucrat. My proudest career moment, though, was when I served, along with other union members and staff, as an official observer for South Africa’s first multiracial elections.

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