Placing a help wanted ad with the words, “unemployed need not apply” could be grounds for a lawsuit in the future if a bill pending in the U.S. Senate is approved.

Senator Sherrod Brown held a recent conference call to call for swift approval of the Fair Employment Opportunity Act of 2011. The bill would make it illegal to refuse to consider a person for a job because he or she is unemployed, or to include in a job advertising that unemployed people will not be considered for the job. The bill also would make it illegal for employers to direct employment agencies to screen out people who are unemployed.

Brown said he has heard stories from numerous people who are unemployed and has read their letters on the senate floor. One woman, a bus driver whose job was eliminated because of budget cuts, got an interview for another driving position and was told the company had a policy of not hiring people who had been unemployed for six months or longer.

“The best way to get our economy back on track is also the best way to reduce our deficit — putting people back to work,” Brown said. “There are millions of Americans who would rather be paying taxes than collecting unemployment insurance. Americans who work hard and play by the rules, but lose a job through no fault of their own, deserve a fair chance at the next one.”

He said the bill would not make it illegal for employers to ask about a candidate’s job history, and would not compel employers to hire people who are unemployed, only to not exclude them from the process.

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