Bills would ban employers from discriminating against unemployed

Canton Repository

Shannon Culberston has been out of work since May. She believes that is hurting her job search.

Culberston, 30, said after a year of working as a server at a Jackson Township restaurant, she lost her job after she repeatedly was unable to get to work because she had to care for her seriously ill daughter.

She said she applied for a job at a pizza shop near her Massillon home. The manager went over her work history. Then she asked Culberston why she hadn’t worked in months.

“It’s hard to find a job right now,” Culberston said.

“If I don’t talk to you by Christmas, have a good Christmas,” the manager said, ending the interview.

“Just her whole body language, her whole tone (changed) when she flipped the application over and saw when was the last time I had worked,” Culberston said.

The Massillon woman said it’s not the first time she’s encountered that feeling. “(Employers) kind of give you a look: ‘Obviously, there’s something wrong with this person because they can’t get a job.’ ”

In response to reports that some employers are refusing to consider hiring unemployed people, Democratic lawmakers in the Ohio Senate and Congress have introduced legislation that would ban the practice.

LUKEWARM RECEPTION

The prospects for the bills becoming law don’t appear good. Many Republicans — the party that controls the Ohio General Assembly and the U.S. House — have expressed skepticism such legislation is needed.

Republican state legislators say they don’t support discrimination against the unemployed. But nearly all say that their initial impression is that the Ohio Senate bill would impose an unnecessary constraint on employers, it’s not clear how prevalent the problem is, and it would open the door to additional lawsuits against employers.

In Congress, such anti-discrimination language, which has been promoted by U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Avon, has been inserted in the jobs bill backed by President Obama. The New York Times reported in September that Congressional Republicans are not enthusiastic about the discrimination ban, and the bill has been stonewalled in the U.S. Senate due to the president’s inability to get 60 senators to approve it.

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