Posted on Apr 27, 2011
As the Great Recession drags on, and the unemployment rate stays high, a job can be very hard to come by.  This has been aggravated for quite some time in New Jersey by employers overtly putting in their job listings that the unemployed need not apply.  Thus, you could only get a job if you already have one.  As can be expected, this practice has not exactly helped matters.

Well, New Jersey is fighting back with a new bill signed into law by Governor Christie recently that bans overt discrimination against the unemployed in print or online.  This is the first legislation of its kind in the United States. Penalties run from $1,000 for the first offense to $5,000 for subsequent offenses.  This will help, but it remains to be seen how much.  Employers can still have that policy, they just won't put it in their job listings.  This will only make this type of discrimination harder to prove and punish.  At the very least, it will hopefully send them a message that this practice must end.

As reported in The Huffington Post, this effort is also being exerted at the federal level.  Even more encouraging is that this law prohibits the discrimination outright, not just in job listings.  The article states that,

"Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) introduced similar legislation on a federal level in March that would amend the Civil Rights Act to include unemployed people as a protected group. The Fair Employment Act of 2011 -- a bill which is still in committee -- would make it illegal for employers to refuse to hire or to lower compensation based on employment status."

With one of the highest unemployment rates in this country, this type of legislation is much needed and long overdo.  The jobless rate will never drop if the unemployed are not given jobs.  Perhaps this will send a sufficient message to employers that unemployed job candidates have just as much to offer as the employed ones.

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Steven J. Richardson
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