Khalfani-Cox: Government Should Make Employers Stop Discriminating Against Unemployed

The financial columnist believes that federal legislation is needed to help reduce the jobless rate for African Americans.

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Black Enterprise's financial columnist, Lynette Khalfani-Cox, gives her take on what the government needs to be doing to address the jobless rate that is crushing black America. She believes that the government needs to step in and put an end to the practice of employers discriminating against unemployed job seekers. Federal legislation banning discrimination against jobless Americans could go a long way toward ensuring that blacks, women, older workers and others with markedly higher levels of unemployment aren’t unfairly kept out of the job market.

Do you think federal legislation will help? Check out Khalfani-Cox's thoughts on the matter below:

For more than a year, employers nationwide have been blatantly discriminating against the jobless -- roughly 14 million Americans -- by refusing to consider hiring people who are currently not working, or who have been unemployed for longer than six months or so.

According to numerous reports, if you're out of a job, you’re out of luck with a growing number of employers whose job postings specify that applicants "must be currently employed" and that the "unemployed need not apply." This issue has huge implications for African Americans -- considering the 15 percent unemployment rate in the Black community far exceeds the national unemployment rate of 8.8 percent.

Now comes word that one state, New Jersey, is doing something about this disturbing trend.

Under a new law recently signed by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie which takes effect in June, employers are prohibited from publishing job advertisements -- in print or online -- stating that the unemployed cannot apply. Violators can be fined up to $1,000 for the first offense and up to $5,000 for subsequent offenses.

The New Jersey law is believed to be the first of its kind in the country. But let’s hope other states follow suit.

In fact, federal legislation banning discrimination against jobless Americans could go a long way toward ensuring that Blacks, women, older workers and others with markedly higher levels of unemployment aren't unfairly kept out of the jobs market.

In March, Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) introduced such federal legislation. Although the Fair Employment Act of 2011 is still in committee, the bill would amend the Civil Rights Act to include unemployed people as a protected group, and make it illegal for employers to refuse to hire people based on their employment status ...

Read more at Black Enterprise.