How You Can Help Fix the ï¿œUnemployed Need Not Apply' Problem

Don Tennant

In a post last February titled I wrote about the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission having convened a hearing on the outlandish practice of employers advertising jobs with a stipulation that the candidate must be currently employed. I wrote at the time that it was unclear how widespread the practice is. We now have a picture that's a little less fuzzy. And it's not a pretty one.

The National Employment Law Project (NELP) in New York last week released a report of its findings following a review of job postings that appeared on,, and from March 9 to April 5. Here's an excerpt:

NELP's snapshot of jobs postings identified more than 150 ads that included exclusions based on current employment status, including 125 ads that identified specific companies by name. The overwhelming majority of the offending ads required that applicants 'must be currently employed.' and accounted for more than 75 percent of the exclusionary ads NELP identified. Staffing firms were prominently represented among those companies identified with the practice of excluding unemployed job seekers, accounting for about half of all the postings.

Significantly, the fact that NELP's relatively limited research yielded such a broad cross-section of exclusionary ads-with postings for jobs throughout the United States, by small, medium and large employers, for white collar, blue collar, and service sector jobs, at virtually every skill level-suggests that the practice of excluding unemployed job seekers could be far more extensive than depicted in this limited sample.

The report included a list of 73 employers and recruiters that had placed job postings with discriminatory language. A sampling of those whose ads included the 'currently employed' (or similarly-worded) requirement:

  • Allstate Insurance
  • Beacon Hill Staffing Group
  • Construction Recruiters of America
  • Financial Technology Recruiting ('must be in a project management role')
  • Gibraltar Laboratories
  • Health Care Recruiters
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Kelly Services (ad for IT Professional/Engineering)
  • Knight Transportation
  • Lakeshore Technical College
  • Los Angeles Bar Career Center
  • National Hospitality Associates
  • Oil & Gas Field Recruiters of America
  • University of Arizona
  • University of Phoenix

As disturbing as all of this is, there is some good news. The release of the NELP report coincided with the introduction in the U.S. House of Representatives of the Fair Employment Opportunity Act of 2011. Sponsored by Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Henry Johnson, Jr. (D-Ga.), the bill would make it against the law for employers to:

  • Refuse to consider for employment or refuse to offer employment to someone because the person is unemployed.
  • Include in any job advertisement or posting a provision that unemployed persons will not be considered or hired.
  • Direct or request that an employment agency take into account an individual's unemployed status in screening or referring applicants for employment.

In my post, I wrote about TechVoice, a website that makes it extremely simple and convenient to contact your government representatives. Getting in touch with them to encourage them to support this bill would be one of the best things you could do today.

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