Outten & Golden: Empowering Employees in the Workplace

Unemployed for even a month? You're likely to face hiring discrimination

July 30th, 2012 | Laura Clawson

Laura ClawsonIf you’re unemployed and searching for a new job, you better hope your last employer went out of business. Otherwise, according to new research, you’re likely to be discriminated against even if you’ve been out of work for as little as a month.

In one study, Ho and his team asked 47 experienced HR professionals to review resumes that were identical except for one detail: Half said the candidate was currently employed, and half said the person had been out of work for a month. The “currently employed” candidate received better marks for competence and hireability. […]

He noted that a third experiment found that job candidates whose previous employer went under received more sympathy. “What does allay people’s bias is some explicit indication that losing your job was not your fault — for example, that the company went bankrupt or suffered some specific setbacks that made layoffs inevitable,” Ho said.

This research just backs up what we already know is happening in real life: widespread discrimination against jobless people at a time when a lot of people are jobless. Staffing agencies even defend their discriminatory practices. Democrats have proposed a bill prohibiting discrimination against unemployed people, but with Republicans in control of the House, such legislation isn’t going anywhere.

This blog originally appeared in Daily Kos Labor on July 30, 2012. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Laura Clawson is labor editor at Daily Kos. She has a PhD in sociology from Princeton University and has taught at Dartmouth College. From 2008 to 2011, she was senior writer at Working America, the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO.

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