A measure that would prohibit employers from discriminating against job applicants based on their unemployment status was introduced in both the House and Senate on January 29, 2014. Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Hank Johnson (D-GA), and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) co-sponsored the Fair Employment Opportunity Act of 2014 (H.R. 3972, S. 1972) in their respective chambers. The bill would prevent employers and employment agencies from refusing to consider or offer a job to an unemployed individual; prohibit the publication in any medium of an advertisement or announcement for a job that includes language indicating the unemployed need not apply; and entitle those discriminated against to bring a civil action against the employer or employment agency for actual, compensatory and punitive damages.
According to a press release issued by Rep. DeLauro’s office, the President intends to hold a meeting to discuss this topic with business leaders tomorrow. Both the Senate and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) held public hearings on unemployment discrimination in 2011 when the earlier bill was introduced.
Although this measure is not likely to advance this term, several states have introduced analogous legislation, and a few such bills have been enacted since 2011.