Some employment applications require job applicants to provide a physical home address, and state that a P.O. Box will not be accepted.  This may be (or soon become) illegal under the latest development in employment law: laws prohibiting discrimination against the homeless.

Earlier this year, Rhode Island passed into law the first “Homeless Bill of Rights.”  Included in its protections was a provision that makes it unlawful to discriminate against an employee or applicant “due to his or her lack of a permanent mailing address, or his or her mailing address being that of a shelter or social service provider.” In other words, an applicant cannot be refused employment simply because he or she does not provide an actual home address. Homeless advocates are pushing for similar legislation in other states. For instance, a California town recently passed a resolution urging the state legislature to enact a law that incorporates Rhode Island’s protections, but goes a step further by expressly prohibiting discrimination against an applicant or employee for providing a P.O. Box as his or her address.  It would not be surprising if other states follow suit, and we will continue to monitor and report on developments in this area.