The recent trend we have reported on where companies refuse to consider unemployed candidates for their job openings has now caught the attention of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
While the practice of preferring currently employed candidates is nothing new, it gained national attention after several employers listed current employment as a requirement on their job postings. Some even used phrases such as "No unemployed candidates will be considered at all" and "Client will not consider/review anyone NOT currently employed regardless of the reason," according to Human Resource Executive Online.
The EEOC held a hearing on the unemployed candidate ban on February 16. Whether there is widespread discrimination against the unemployed was debated. Currently, there are no laws protecting the unemployed against discrimination, but if the practice hits protected groups, such as African-Americans or the disabled, particularly hard, there is the potential for a disparate-impact claim, according to the Human Resource Executive Online article.
Not only that, but it could cause employers to miss out on high quality workers who were simply victims of a particularly harsh recession. In fact, one lawyer interviewed in the Human Resource Executive Online article talked about clients who "agonized over the last couple of years because they were forced to choose among good performers, but they had no choice but to reduce head count."
In light of the EEOC hearing and news about unemployed discrimination, the Ask Annie column on CNNMoney.com recently advised a worker who was denied a job due to her unemployed status to look for contracting or consulting work. Doing so helps keep candidates skills sharp and helps them meet new people who could aid in their job search. More importantly, it keeps the candidate working, eliminating large gaps in their resumes, according to the article.