UPDATED: August 8, 2011
A month after the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) conducted a public hearing on unemployment discrimination, Rep. Henry Johnson (D-GA) has introduced a measure that would make this practice unlawful. The Fair Employment Act of 2011 (H.R. 1113) would amend Title VII of the Civil Right Act to add “unemployment status” to the list of protected classes. “Unemployment status” is defined in the legislation as “being unemployed, having actively looked for employment during the then most recent 4-week period, and currently being available for employment.”
In a statement, Rep. Johnson said: “[e]mployer discrimination against unemployed job applicants is fundamentally wrong,” adding, “With unemployment at about 9 percent and with nearly 14 million Americans out of work, this discrimination will only prolong the crisis.”
This bill, which has 15 co-sponsors, has been referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, although it faces dim prospects for advancing.
UPDATE: On July 12, 2011, Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Henry Johnson (D-GA) introduced similar legislation that would make it unlawful for an employer or employment agency to discriminate against individuals based on their unemployment status or history of unemployment. The Fair Employment Opportunity Act of 2011 (H.R. 2501) would, among other things, prevent employers and employment agencies from refusing to consider or offer a job to an unemployed individual; prohibit the publication in any medium of an advertisement or announcement for a job that includes language indicating the unemployed need not apply; and entitle those discriminated against to bring a civil action against the employer or employment agency for actual, compensatory and punitive damages. This bill has been referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced a companion bill (S. 1471) in the Senate on August 2, 2011.
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