Obama Proposal Would Ban Employers From Discriminating Against Unemployed

Discriminating Unemployed ObamaOne problem that has bedeviled many jobless workers is the inability to apply for jobs simply because some employers won't consider them.

Now, President Barack Obama wants to end the practice by making it illegal for employers to discriminate against job candidates because they are unemployed.

As part of the jobs bill that Obama announced earlier this month, it would be unlawful for companies that employ 15 or more workers to refuse to hire someone "because of the individual's status as unemployed," The New York Times reports.

Job applicants who feel that they've been denied a job because they are unemployed would be able to sue potential employers -- just as they would if a company discriminated against candidates because of their race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

Obama says the legislation would end a needless practice that discriminates against people who through no fault of their own have lost jobs.

If implemented, the law would also prohibit employment agencies and websites from carrying advertisements for job openings that exclude people who are unemployed, according to the Times.

The practice of excluding unemployed people from applying for open positions was brought to light earlier this year by the National Employment Law Project.

An informal survey by the advocacy organization found that employers routinely used language such as applicants "must be currently employed" in ads placed in online job boards, including Monster.com, Craigslist, CareerBuilder.com and Indeed.com.

A poll earlier this year showed that 80 percent of adults described such practices as "very unfair," with another 10 percent saying that it's simply "unfair." Those responding to the poll supported by 2-to-1 a ban on companies who refuse to hire or consider qualified job applicants solely because they're currently unemployed.

Obama's proposal, as the Times notes, has met opposition from Republican lawmakers, who say the legislation would further burden employers and increase the number of frivolous lawsuits.

Still, with about 4.5 million Americans out of work for more than a year, the Obama administration is keen to do something to cajole companies to hire more workers.

And judging by public opinion, many Americans would like to see the proposal become law.

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