Currently, it is legal for an employer to refuse to hire anyone who is unemployed. Obviously, if this practice becomes widespread, the current high unemployment rate would remain high for much longer. A Congressman from Georgia believes this is unfair and he has proposed legislation to make it illegal. Under the Congressman’s bill, The Fair Employment Act of 2011 (H.R. 1113), the same federal law that protects job applicants from religious discrimination, race discrimination, and sex discrimination would also protect applicants from discrimination on the basis of their employment status.
This bill comes on the heels of claims that discrimination against the jobless is a covert way of discriminating against the aged and racial minorities. Older workers and racial minorities were particularly hard hit during the recession. Thus, if an employer refuses to hire an unemployed applicant, it is more likely that it will not hire an older worker or a racial minority.