The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission held a hearing last week to discuss whether refusing to hire unemployed people is illegal.
Abigail Field described what constitutes illegal discrimination in her Daily Finance article, Unemployed Need Not Apply: Is It Illegal to Refuse to Consider Hiring the Jobless?
“The discrimination has to be against a “protected class” – a group that has suffered discrimination based on a status it can’t change, like gender, race or age – or shouldn’t be forced to change, like religion. Some states protect additional groups, but the EEOC enforces federal law, so that was the hearing’s focus.”
One set of experts testified that it probably is illegal – against two protected classes: non-white workers and workers over 40 years old.
An opposing set of experts testified that it’s legal, but cited statistics that weren’t comparable to their opposition’s.
Either way, NUNA is an unfair practice that exists, according to my research and discussions with other career professionals. This seemingly growing tide is impacting a lot of people at a very challenging time in their lives.
In conclusion, Field stated:
“At a time of high unemployment, the jobless include many talented, high quality workers. Employment status these days is a particularly poor proxy for worker quality. Let’s hope the practice – to whatever extent it exists – quickly ends. And if it doesn’t, here’s hoping some class action lawsuits – or EEOC action – puts a stop to it.”
In a LinkedIn Group discussion about the article, one career professional cautioned:
“I haven’t seen any evidence of [NUNA] – but to me, the relevant fact is that employers usually WILL NOT pay a recruiter or headhunter for an unemployed candidate.
So our clients need to understand this, and will benefit from investing their energies in uncovering potential work needs rather than expecting that recruiters will place them.”