In what appears to be something of a trend, the Pennsylvania State Legislature is considering a bill entitled “The Pennsylvania Fair Employment Opportunity Act,” attached here, which would prohibit employers from discriminating against job applicants who are unemployed at the time of applying for an open position with an employer.
Unlike typical charges of discrimination under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act which are handled by the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, enforcement of the Fair Employment Opportunity Act would fall to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. Employers could face fines of $1,500 to $3,000 for first offenses and $3,000 to $6,000 for subsequent offenses.
New Jersey, the District of Columbia and Oregon have already enacted statutes prohibiting discrimination against unemployed job applicants and other states, including Maryland, Ohio and New York, are considering similar legislation.
House Representative Brendan Boyle (D-Philadelphia) first introduced this legislation in January, 2012, but that bill never made it out of committee. We will update you on any changes in the status of the proposed legislation.