A recent 60 Minutes piece aiming to shed light on the situation of the long term unemployed in America revealed a surprising trend in hiring. It appears that there is widespread discrimination against applicants who are not currently employed. Some states have enacted legislation that protects the unemployed from discrimination, and Congress is currently considering a bill that does the same.
Employment discrimination is defined primarily through categories of age, race, sex, religion, national origin and disability status. However, it's possible that employers may discriminate on another basis that is not explicitly protected by the law. There may be other legal issues present in a case between an employee and employer, and it's important to discuss all the aspects of a possible claim with a lawyer who has a wide breadth of knowledge on employment issues.
Job seekers that were interviewed for the piece said that potential employers were honest about why they were declining their applications. One woman reported that an interviewer told her she wasn't ready for the job because she had been out of work for so long. Reports indicate that this practice has progressed beyond a simple stigma. Some employers include requirements such as "must be currently employed" on the job listing.
60 minutes reporters said that they found that the longer individuals were out of work, the harder it was for them to find work. One producer said that employers seem to be weeding out applicants that have been out of work for 1 to 2 years. This type of conduct may not be illegal now, but the pending action by Congress may prevent employers from discriminating on this basis.
Source: CBS news: "Discrimination against the unemployed," Feb. 19. 2012.