The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission held a public meeting on February 16, 2011, to discuss the employment practice of excluding individuals from applicant pools because of their current unemployment status. Noting that some employers are using unemployment status to disqualify applicants in a way that could have a disparate impact on protected classes, EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien cautioned employers that automatic rejection of applicants based on current unemployment status could constitute unlawful discrimination in certain situations. Unemployment status is not a protected class under federal laws the EEOC enforces such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended. However, employment practices such as applicant screening mechanisms that have a disparate impact on groups those laws protect can be unlawful. Stay tuned for further alerts as this issue continues to unfold.