Jobs Act Targets Discrimination of Unemployed

September 16, 2011 ( - President Barack Obama's American Jobs Act includes provisions that would prohibit discrimination against job applicants on the basis of their unemployment status, Bloomberg reports.

Under the Fair Employment Opportunity Act of 2011’s provisions, employers and employment agencies would be prohibited from publishing in any medium an ad for an employee for any job that disqualifies unemployed individuals, or provides they will not be considered for positions (see Employer Only Seeking Other Companies’ Workers?). Firms still would be able to consider individuals’ employment histories and examine the reasons for their unemployment.   

Fines for violating the Act would include liquidated damages of up to $1,000 for each day’s violation and attorneys’ fees and costs. The Act would pre-empt state laws.   

According to Bloomberg, the unemployment discrimination proposal begins with Section 371 of the jobs act, which states, “Congress finds that denial of employment opportunities to individuals because of their status as unemployed is discriminatory and burdens commerce” by “reducing personal consumption and undermining economic stability,” among other impacts.   

It also says the Act’s purpose includes prohibiting employers from disqualifying individuals because of their unemployed status.  

The State of New Jersey has already passed its own legislation targeting discrimination of the unemployed (see NJ Law Targets Job Ads that Discourage Unemployed).