While Congress is busy disagreeing over the national budget, two House members, Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), are trying to help unemployed Americans by sponsoring the Fair Employment Opportunity Act of 2011. If passed, this law will prohibit employers (with over 15 employees) and employment agencies from screening out or excluding job applicants based on the fact that they are unemployed.
Under the proposed legislation, it will be illegal to refuse to consider hiring someone because that person is unemployed. It would also be unlawful to indicate, in a job ad, that a person would be disqualified or not considered based on the fact that he or she is unemployed. The only exception is when a person’s employment in a similar or related job for a period of time reasonably close to hiring is truly a requirement that is necessary to successful job performance.
An employment agency would be precluded from taking an individual’s unemployed status into account in screening or referring applicants for unemployment or to limit access to information about jobs.
This law has teeth because it provides that damages will be paid to the unemployed person by an employer or employment agency who breaks the law. It also allows an affected employee to sue in state or federal court on behalf of himself or other people harmed in the same way he has been harmed (indicating that a class action or collective action can be brought), unless the Secretary of Labor decides to bring legal action.
If you want to see this law pass, you can contact your Congressional representative or senator and encourage support for the bill.
Abbey Spanier, LLP, located in New York City, is a well recognized national class action and complex litigation law firm.