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Jobless Need Not Apply

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Finding a job is hard enough for the many millions of unemployed American workers. But, believe it or not, the fact that they're jobless keeps many employers from hiring them for many of the jobs that are available.

It's crazy.  But many employers actually are saying, in effect, that workers who are laid off by other employers, or who can't get other employers to hire them, must automatically be considered bad workers who they don't want to hire either.

As reprehensible and crazy as that bizarre practice is, some employers don't bother to hide their part in it. They openly say, in ads seeking workers, that the long-term unemployed need not apply, or they say that the employer will only consider applicants who are currently employed.

President Obama's American Jobs Act and two companion bills in Congress would make it illegal for companies with 15 or more employees to turn down or fail to seek jobless workers to fill vacancies solely because the workers are unemployed.

Several states have enacted, or are considering enactment, of similar laws. California is unfortunately not among them.


The bills cover employment agencies as well as employers and prohibit want ads that disqualify applicants because they are jobless.  Those violating the law could be ordered to pay workers damages covering the pay and other compensation they lost because of not being hired, and pay at least part of the fees workers might pay to attorneys arguing their case before government enforcement agencies.

Although organized labor generally seems satisfied with President Obama's American Jobs Act and its goal of creating two million new jobs, many in labor and elsewhere on the political left consider it an inadequate response to the nation's massive unemployment problem.

But this much is clear: the proposed act would ban one of the most outrageous practices ever perpetrated on American workers.

You need a job because you're unemployed? Sorry, says the hiring boss, no job for you because you don't already have a job.

Have we fallen into Alice's Wonderland?

With a Perspective, this is Dick Meister.

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