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Do you need a job to get a job?

10:01 AM, Oct 11, 2011   |    comments
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CNN/WTVF - There's one provision included in President Barack Obama's jobs bill that's getting a lot of attention, and it has to do with discrimination against the unemployed.

"Unemployed? Don't bother applying for this job." That's what some recruiters have been telling job applicants and now the federal government is moving to make it illegal.

President Obama's jobs bill would make it "an unlawful employment practice" if a business with 15 or more employees rejected an applicant "because of the individual's status as unemployed." it would also ban job listings that exclude unemployed applicants from applying.

"It's not just bad for the workers, it's bad for the country, it's bad for the economy," said Drew Courtney,
communications director of People for the American Way. "It's a tremendous waste of human capital to tell people because they lost a job they're not eligible to get a new one."

But business groups are critical and say employers will always hire the best person for the job, regardless of employment status. They argue this law will result in frivolous lawsuits from disgruntled job seekers looking to blame someone for their unemployment.

"We are concerned it would chill the hiring practices of small businesses because they would be worried they would get sued if they failed to hire a person who had been unemployed for a long period of time," said Karen Harned, executive director of the National Federation of Independent Business's Small Business Legal Center.

Roughly 14 million Americans are out of work right now and the average unemployment lasts 40 weeks. Some minorities have been hit even harder. The national unemployment rate stands at 9.1 percent. For Hispanics, it's currently at 11.3 percent; African-Americans are at 16 percent.

"If there are groups who have been disproportionately hit by long term unemployment, which I think there undeniably are, then yes, it's going to make it more difficult for those people to get a job," Courtney said.


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