On April 17, 2012, the Connecticut General Assembly’s Judiciary Committee voted in favor of a bill that would prohibit employers from advertising employment opportunities in a way that discriminates against any job seekers because they are unemployed.  In addition to the Judiciary Committee, Connecticut’s Labor and Public Employees Committee and Commerce Committee have also voted in favor of the bill.

An earlier version of the bill would have gone even further by treating unemployed individuals as a new protected class, similar to race, gender and age, but an amendment to the bill in March 2012 did away with that language, and focuses instead on preventing employers from discriminating against the unemployed in job postings and advertisements.  The state Senate will now consider the bill, as amended.

Although a federal bill prohibiting discrimination against the unemployed did not receive support in Congress, more than a dozen state legislatures have introduced similar bills.  New Jersey was the first state to pass a law prohibiting discrimination against the unemployed; that law took effect in June 2011.

As these bills advance around the country, employers should ensure that their hiring practices remain in compliance with the changing state-law landscape.