With ever increasing numbers of unemployed workers in the nation, comes a new federal bill that would prevent companies from discriminating against candidates who are without current jobs. The Fair Employment Opportunity Act of 2011 (FEOA), supported by state representatives Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, Henry Johnson, Jr. of Georgia and George Miller of California, three states hit hard by the unemployment crisis, would make it illegal for hiring managers to eliminate candidates based soley on their unemployment history or status.

Proponents of the FEOA, such as Christine Owens, the Executive Director of the National Employment Law Project, advise that if passed into law, it would even the playing field for candidates who have not been able to find gainful employment for long periods of time. June 2011 statistics from the Department of Labor BLS show that almost 6.3 million workers have been out of work for six months or longer, adding to the nearly 10% unemployment rate in the USA this year. For job seekers who are actively seeking employment, they are facing discriminatory hiring practices such as job ads that implicitly state “must be currently employed for consideration”. This is good news for job seekers, but troubling news for staffing companies already overburdened with too many candidates.

If this officially goes into law, how would this affect your corporate hiring practices?

For the thousands of hiring managers actively engaged in the recruitment of candidates to fill demanding roles, it is standard practice to seek out those who have stable employment histories. Additionally, it’s common to interview only those candidates who demonstrate the skills and work histories desired for open assignments. FEOA would actually require that recruiters consider all types of candidates regardless of their current unemployment status or the stability of their work history.

Also, consider that some hiring managers, in an attempt to focus in on prime candidates, have started conducting job fairs geared towards new college graduates and more skilled employees. It’s not uncommon for recruiters to call on currently employed individuals who are sourced through a variety of career portals, social media networks to find quality candidates. If this bill is passed, it could mean the end of such practices which could be considered discriminatory in nature.

The real question that recruitment professionals should start asking themselves is why unemployed candidates have been traditionally viewed as less desirable? Is it just a stigma that has been assigned to those, who through no fault of their own, have wound up having to be on unemployment for extended periods of time? Before panicking about the proposed legislative changes that lay ahead for hiring practices, perhaps it’s time to start re-evaluating your internal recruitment strategy and start giving the unemployed candidates who walk through your doors a second glance. You are likely to find a few gems and some very qualified candidates by changing your stance on unemployment as a whole.

If you are interested in learning how to better manage your hiring and recruitment practices, and stay abreast of new employment laws that can affect your company – we encourage you to visit our Client Web Portal today!


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