California Considers Outlawing Discrimination Against Unemployed

California Considers Outlawing Discrimination Against Unemployed

A bill introduced Jan. 5 and sponsored by Democratic Assemblyman Michael Allen wouldn’t allow unemployed job-seekers to sue for discrimination, but companies that violate the law would face investigation and fines of up to $10,000.

“There’s been an increasing utilization of using this as a crude screening process to keep applicants from even being interviewed,” Allen told The Huffington Post. “It’s better to be proactive rather than to let this become a common practice.”

I rarely like government making regulations on business given the plethora of bureaucracy such laws often create, but this is one of those times were such regulations I feel are necessary. I’ve known several people that were denied jobs simply because they were currently unemployed at the time the interviewed. I was once told that I fit all the criteria for a position but that I was not selected to be hired solely on the grounds that I was not “currently employed” while undergoing the hiring process. I discussed the issue with the HR person, who agreed with me that it was silly not to hire a perfectly qualified candidate based on their current unemployment, but ultimately it was the bosses decision to make. While I felt it unfair I moved on as working for such a company, in my opinion, isn’t worth it as such an attitude often reflects a lack of commitment and respect by the employer towards their employees.

Unfortunately, I’ve heard similar stories from assorted friends, family, and associates over the years, particularly when the recession really hit hard between 2008-2010. I’ve even seen posts at job board over the last couple years while I was hunting for contract and freelance work with the ridiculous requirement that one must be employed in order to be hired. In other words, it’s slowly becoming a serious problem and a means used by some unscrupulous employers to justify their personal biases. (I still get amusement over an HR person for a foreign company wanting to hire American engineers and designers insisting I was lying about being a U.S. citizen because I had a “strange accent”. I assume they meant my native Arizonan accent, which is rare and really not that noticeably different.)

Yes, employers want their employees to be up to date on their skills, but an employed person is not necessarily one who has kept current for their field. (I’ve certainly met enough to confirm that over the years.) This desire for skilled labor does not justify discrimination in any form, especially against those who need the work the most: the unemployed.

I guess it’s a good thing I simply don’t get the need of others to discriminate. If someone’s qualified and can do the job, who cares about their appearance, gender, beliefs, or any of the rest. If they can do the job and work with their fellow employees to accomplish tasks, that is what should matter.

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