In our blog entry of February 22, 2011, we noted that under the anti-discrimination laws there is no protected class known as “the unemployed,” and if you are not hired because of your unemployment status, you have no actionable claim of discrimination. 

In our blog entry of June 8, 2011, we gave this warning:

“No laws or regulations yet exist which forbid the use of employment status as a hiring criteria, but given the increase in the jobless rate, an employer who is hiring is certain to encounter applicants who are unemployed or who have unexplained gaps in their resumes. Don’t automatically disqualify these applicants, or advertise that only the employed need apply – there is no point in looking for increased scrutiny in these uncertain economic times.”     

A law directly on this point may now be in the offing. With the unemployment rate currently hovering at around 9.2 per cent, with long term unemployment an increasing problem, and with an increasing number of employers advertising that the unemployed “need not apply,” two Democratic members of Congress have this week introduced a bill, the Fair Employment Opportunity Act of 2011, H.R. 2501,which would prohibit employers from refusing employment  to persons on the basis of their being unemployed, and also prohibit employers from advertising that the unemployed “need not apply.”

We will keep you posted on the status of this bill, which right now is uncertain.