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American Jobs Act Protects the Unemployed from Discrimination

The jobs crisis in North Carolina seems to be getting more dire by the day. North Carolina’s unemployment rate is hovering above 10 percent and the jobs deficit —  the difference between the number of jobs North Carolina has and the number it needs to regain it’s pre-recession employment rate —  stands at over 490,000. Competition of available jobs is extremely high in this economic climate, with unemployed workers outnumbering available jobs by almost 5 to 1.

What could make this bad situation even worse? Recent reports and news articles have been shining a spotlight on hiring practices that discriminate against unemployed job-seekers. Reviews of job listings have shown that employers and staffing firms have been posting ads that include exclusions based on employment status, with many of the ads stating that applicants “must be currently employed.”

Not only is this practice unfair, it can be devastating for unemployed job-seekers and their families. Moreover, eliminating employment opportunities keeps talent and skills out of the labor pool and flies in the face of equal opportunity. The American public agrees and lawmakers are responding. According a recent poll on the issue, 90 percent of respondents stated that the refusal to consider unemployed job applicants was unfair.

The American Jobs Act provides a provision that would make it unlawful to refuse to hire applicants solely because they are unemployed or to post a job ad stating that unemployed persons will not be considered. Unemployed workers, and especially the long-term unemployed, need assistance in returning to work. This provision is an important step in giving the unemployed an equal chance.

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