Almost a month after the Equal Opportunity Commission's (EEOC) big hearing on unemployment discrimination, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) has introduced a new bill (S. 1471) entitled the “Fair Employment Opportunity Act of 2011.”
The measure would ban employers or employment agencies from discriminating against:
- an individual's current unemployed status or history of unemployment
- advertising job openings that include language indicating unemployed persons may not apply
It also allows individuals subjected to employment discrimination to bring civil action against the employer or employment agency for compensatory and punitive damages. The bill (S. 1471) does contain an exception for jobs where recent experience in a related field is necessary.
Senator Blumenthal said when introducing the legislation, “As our economy continues to recover, the unemployment rate remains unacceptably high — and unfair hiring practices bar unemployed individuals from applying for open positions, further eroding the hopes of the 14 million Americans without jobs across the United States. This bill will explicitly prohibit employers from engaging in discriminatory hiring and ensure that unemployed job seekers receive fair consideration for job openings, giving a much-needed boost to those in Connecticut and across the country who are struggling to find gainful employment during these difficult economic times.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates there are 4.7 unemployed workers for every job opening, a ratio that has been above 4-to-1 for 29 consecutive months. There are so many people out of work and looking for jobs. Because of that, the unemployed face a difficult and competitive job market. But when job seekers are excluded for consideration based on their employment status, the job of finding work becomes even more difficult.
The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. We'll keep you updated on any further developments.