Where Is Unemployment Discrimination Illegal?

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By Andrew Lu on March 14, 2013 1:06 PM

Unemployment discrimination is on the rise, and several cities and states have taken measures to make this type of discrimination illegal.

New York City lawmakers on Wednesday approved the nation's toughest law against jobless discrimination. The law, set to take effect in June, makes it illegal for employers to consider an applicant's employment status in hiring decisions, or to state in job advertisements that only currently employed persons need apply.

Most notably, NYC's law is the first to allow individuals to sue a prospective employer over unemployment discrimination, reports The Associated Press.

A Pervasive Problem

Unemployment discrimination is a real problem that many may overlook, as it does not involve legally protected characteristics like race, sex, disability, or religion.

Still, jobless discrimination can have significant negative effects, as it freezes out perfectly qualified individuals who may have lost their jobs for no fault of their own. With the recession barely behind us, many unemployed workers are caught in a vicious cycle in which remaining jobless has made it more difficult to find work.

Anti-Discrimination Laws

New Jersey was the first state to pass unemployment discrimination laws, but limited its law to apply only to job advertisements and postings. The law prohibits employers from stating in an advertisement that it only wants to hired currently employed workers. But the law also does not allow individuals to sue the employer, only subjecting violating companies to fines.

Along with New Jersey and New York City, Oregon and Washington, D.C., have also banned unemployment discrimination. Several states like California, Maryland, and Arizona have also considered similar laws; however, those bills failed for a variety of reasons, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

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