End Discrimination Against the Unemployed
AB 1450 (Allen)
To prohibit employers and employment agencies from refusing to consider the hiring of currently unemployed job applicants.
California’s Employment Development Department (EDD) estimates that in December of 2011, our state still suffered from a staggering 11.1% unemployment
rate—second only to Nevada.i That means over 2 million Californians are actively seeking but unable to find work. That also means countless more have given up the job search entirely.
However, even numbers this bleak obscure the uniquely relentless nature of this downturn. In June of 2011, an average unemployed American had been looking for work for 39.7 weeks—over nine months. That record-setting figure more than
doubles the unemployment duration of prior recessions.ii In addition, prior to this downturn, approximately 1.5 unemployed workers existed for every job opening. That ratio has now spiked to four workers for every one job.
While job markets always tighten during tough economic times, the current recession’s impact dwarfs that of past downturns. Historically, statistics representing either unemployment duration or worker-to-job ratio have never reached current levels. The reality is that this recession’s unemployed workers are having a much tougher time finding work than their counterparts of the past.iii
Unfortunately, some companies have met this surge of applicants by refusing to consider unemployed workers. Across the country, many employers, employment agencies, and online job websites have begun to openly advertise warnings like “no unemployed candidates considered at all” or “must be currently employed.”iv Creating a perverse catch-22, these corporations require that you already have a job in order to get a job.
Research from the National Employment Law Project discovered 150 such advertisements, highlighting the extent of the problem and revealing the broad scope of industries affected. Employers of all sizes searching for workers of all skill levels and backgrounds were found openly advertising this policy of exclusion.
The general public, meanwhile, strongly opposes unemployment discrimination. The vast majority describe the refusal to consider unemployed job applicants as “very unfair” (80 percent) or “somewhat unfair” (10 percent), and nearly two-thirds favor legislation making “it illegal for companies to refuse to hire or consider a qualified job applicant solely because the person is currently unemployed.”v
New Jersey has already prohibited employers from advertising unemployment discrimination, and legislators in several other states have introduced similar legislation.
What This Bill Will Do
AB 1450 will ban discrimination against unemployed workers. Employers will also be prohibited from refusing to hire someone because of their employment status. The bill lifts language from President Obama’s jobs bill to specifically allow companies to factor work history into employment decisions.
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 request explanations for why a worker left previous jobs. AB 1450 simply prevents employers from refusing to consider or refusing to hire any currently unemployed applicants.
The bill applies the same standards to employment agencies and recruitment firms. Also, as in New Jersey, AB 1450 will prohibit job advertisements from expressly discriminating against the unemployed.
This provision will also apply to online job websites.
~ California Labor Federation (Sponsor)
~ National Employment Law Project (Sponsor)
~ California Alliance for Retired Americans
California Labor Federation
(916) 444-3676 ext. 14
i State of California Employment Development Department. 2010. State of California. 11 Feb. 2012. http://www.labormarketinfo.edd.ca.gov/
ii Rampell, Catherine. “Average Length of Unemployment at All Time High.” NY Times Economix Blog. 3 Jun. 2011. Last Accessed 16 Feb. 2012. http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/03/average-length-of-unemployment-at-all-time-high/
iii Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey Highlights.” 7 Feb. 2012. Last Accessed 16 Feb. 2012. http://www.bls.gov/web/jolts/jlt_labstatgraphs.pdf
iv “Hiring Discrimination Against the Unemployed.” National Employment Law Project. 12 Feb. 2012.
v “Hiring Discrimination Against the Unemployed.” National Employment Law Project. 12 Feb. 2012.