Although overall unemployment is lower in recent months than it had been, a sizable portion of the unemployed — about a third, according to the U.S. Department of Labor — consists of those who have been jobless for 27 weeks or longer. Often due to a combination of age and joblessness, these applicants are frequently passed up during the hiring process. Some employers may believe these workers would be too expensive to hire, while others may believe a candidate is jobless for a reason related to their work ethic or overall employability, rather than due to circumstances beyond their control.
Hiring discrimination against the unemployed is a problem for which many jurisdictions have struggled to find a solution. New York City banned employers from discriminating against the unemployed in 2013, and President Obama earlier this year ordered federal agencies to not discriminate against long-term unemployed people. He also encouraged major corporations to pledge to give fair and equal treatment to the unemployed while looking for new hires. But most other cities and states don’t make it illegal for employers to discriminate against job applicants who aren’t currently working, and no federal law protects these potential workers, either.
While employment status is not considered a protected class in the context of anti-discrimination laws, it is possible for unemployment to play a role in a discrimination suit. For example, an employer that considers the employment status of one group during the hiring process while ignoring it in others may be open to a lawsuit. Additionally, it may be possible to argue that considering employment status may have a disparate impact on the job prospects of protected groups with high unemployment rates, including many minorities.
If you believe your failure to find work at a job for which you are otherwise qualified had its basis in discrimination related to your current unemployment, meet with an experienced New York employment law attorney at the Derek Smith Law Group right away.