Help Prevent Discrimination Against Unemployed Californians - Support AB 1450

Imagine this scenario: you're skilled, experienced, educated and hard working but changes in your company's corporate strategy led to a department's demise and you were laid off.

Since then you've been looking for work in the state with the second highest unemployment in the nation and an estimated four unemployed workers for every job. According to the National Employment Law Project nearly half of all unemployed Californians have been actively looking for work for more than six months, and over one-third have been out of work for over a year.

Regardless of these bleak statistics, though, you're doing everything you can to find a job.

So imagine your bewilderment when you read more and more job postings stating that "you must be currently employed" to apply! If unemployed you will not be considered! GO AWAY! The door is slammed shut BEFORE you're even allowed to submit an application - no matter how qualified you might be!

Increasingly, states are considering, or have passed, legislation to protect the unemployed from such blatant discrimination.

That's why I'm supporting California Assembly Bill 1450 (Allen) that will ban discrimination against unemployed workers, and prohibit employers from refusing to consider hiring an unemployed person. Similar to a bill passed in New Jersey, it will also ban discrimination against the unemployed in job advertisements.

The bill in no way restricts employers from asking about an applicant's work history. Interviewers will still be able to ask about gaps in employment or for explanations for why a worker left previous jobs. AB 1450 simply prevents employers from refusing to consider an unemployed applicant.

We should all know by now that the more people that remain unemployed - especially the increasing number of long-term unemployed - the worse it is for our economy, our community, our families, and our society. In particular, long-term unemployment has disproportionately hit older workers who have an especially difficult time getting rehired (they are about half as likely to be rehired). A recent article in The New York Times termed this "The Human Disaster of Unemployment." The PBS News Hour called long-term unemployment "an unfolding national emergency."

It doesn't do any of us any good - businesses included - for job postings to blatantly discriminate against the unemployed.

So as a small business person myself, a word to businesses whose trade associations are against this bill:

First, as anyone who has ever interviewed for a job knows, the chances that they ever hear back why they didn't get the job is slim to none. And even if they do, who's to say that that reason is the truth? Even though there are laws against discriminating against age, race, gender, religion, etc., most people have no way of "proving" why they were rejected.

Second, and I would like businesses to think seriously about this - especially those with healthy public relations and advertising budgets - undoubtedly you brand your company as following the tenets of "corporate social responsibility", "sustainability" and being "good corporate citizens". When your internal policy encourages statements (and a belief system) that the unemployed are "unworthy", in an age of instant communications and transparency that will eventually make its way onto the Internet and social media. You can spend years and millions of dollars building an image only to have it destroyed quickly, like any other misstep, and with instant repercussions to the bottom line.

It does no good for the fabric of our community for companies to deliberately create a pariah class of the "unemployed". It is egregious, demeaning and beneath businesses who are striving to be good citizens in an era of negative public perception.

I urge everyone to contact your local assembly person and support AB 1450 to end discrimination against the unemployed.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Aaron Berger May 18, 2012 at 11:47 AM
This is an excellent article that brings to light a growing problem in our country. More states should ensure a level playing field for applicants.
Sharon Prager May 18, 2012 at 02:17 PM
Thank you Aaron - I hope so!


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