An unemployed Nebraska man searches for jobs (AP)Hundreds of job opening listings posted on Monster.com and other jobs sites explicitly state that people who are unemployed would be less attractive applicants, with some telling the long-term unemployed to not even bother with applying.
The New York Times' Catherine Rampell said she found preferences for the already employed or only recently laid off in listings for "hotel concierges, restaurant managers, teachers, I.T. specialists, business analysts, sales directors, account executives, orthopedics device salesmen, auditors and air-conditioning technicians." Even the massive University of Phoenix stated that preference, but removed the listings when the Times started asking questions.
The concerted shunning of unemployed Americans by prospective employers was a common theme that cropped up in the thousands of responses that poured in when we asked Yahoo! readers to share their experiences of unemployment for our "Down But Not Out" series.
Reader Susan W. said she was being treated "as if it were my fault I was unemployed, regardless of the fact that I had put out hundreds of resumes and applications."
Legal experts told the Times that explicitly barring unemployed people from applying does not qualify under the statutory definition of discrimination, since unemployment is not a federally protected status like age or race. But the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently set out to establish whether employers were discriminating against certain protected groups because they are overrepresented in the ranks of the unemployed, such as African-American and older workers. (We covered that meeting here.) New Jersey recently passed a law barring employment ads that seek to rule out applications from those who are unemployed.
Even if the practice of weeding out unemployed applicants doesn't fit the legal definition of discrimination, it sure feels unfair for the more than 6.3 million Americans who have been out of work for more than six months to be told they are automatically disqualified for the few openings that are out there. "I feel like I am being shunned by our entire society," Kelly Wiedemer, an unemployed information technology specialist, told the Times.