Money Matters - Simplified

EEOC probing reports of employers' bias against the jobless

The lawyers for the employers said that there is no law which clearly bars a company to exclude unemployed candidates from applying.

A recent probe initiated by the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) is trying to find out if the unemployed are discriminated against by employers while giving jobs. The advocates for the workers told the commission that there is a bias against the unemployed.

The commission started the probe after several reports surfaced in newspapers about the practice covertly followed by some employers last summer.

Practice of barring unemployed
Christian Owens, executive director of the National Employment Project (NEP), which promotes jobs for lower wage workers, said, “This is a practice that, regardless of its magnitude, adds to the difficulty that millions of unemployed workers are facing today in navigating the toughest job market any of us has ever experienced.”

The NEP submitted an advertisement to the commission in which the company looking to hire some paralegals stated, “to be considered, candidates must be currently employed.”

However, the chief executive of the company denied any knowledge and said that more than half of the candidates selected in the last two weeks were unemployed.

The EEOC, which enforces anti discrimination law, is looking into the practice after report surfaced in the media about it.

The main concern is that the practice may hit minorities and women the hardest.

During the hearing, Labor Department assistant secretary, William Spriggs, told the Commission that employers are more likely to discriminate against Latinos and African Americans as the unemployment rate is quite high among them.

EEOC chairperson, Jacquelin Berrien, said the investigation was initiated after such advertisements were gathered by worker advocacy groups.

Berrien said, “We’ll take a close look at what we heard and consider if there’s anything we might need to do to clarify standards.”

It is still not clear what steps the EEOC is considering and up to what extent it had authority in this matter.

The EEOC and the labor department stated that there is not enough data on the practice of discrimination against the unemployed.

Employers deny any such widespread practice
The lawyers representing the employers said that no such practice is followed commonly and even when it is done, it is only followed to select candidates with up to date skills.

The lawyers for the employers said that there is no law which clearly bars a company to exclude unemployed candidates from applying.

But the civil rights law specifically bars an employer from discriminating against a group of applicants on the basis of gender, age or race unless the employer can show a peculiar necessity of the business.

During the hearing, Labor Department assistant secretary, William Spriggs, told the Commission that employers are more likely to discriminate against Latinos and African Americans as the unemployment rate is quite high among them.