WASHINGTON, D.C.—Following the release of a report indicating the prevalence of online job listings that exclude unemployed jobseekers from applying for open positions, U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) sent a letter today to the CEO of CareerBuilder asking the company to prohibit companies from posting job opportunities that discriminate against applicants based on their employment status.
“Being discriminated against after losing a job through no fault of your own is a one-two punch that unemployed Americans shouldn’t have to take,” Senator Brown said. “Discrimination in the employment process is never acceptable—and CareerBuilder should follow in the footsteps of other job placement websites by banning listings with discriminatory language. 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.”
“Discriminatory practices that disqualify unemployed people from jobs are unfair and unacceptable – undercutting skilled jobseekers from connecting with prospective employers and reducing unemployment. These websites should support their stated goal of helping jobseekers find employment by immediately prohibiting these discriminatory job postings,” Senator Blumenthal said.
“Losing your job through no fault of your own should never disqualify you from finding a new job,” Senator Gillibrand said. “If we’re ever going to get our economy back on stable ground, we need to create more jobs for all Americans who are ready to work. This legislation would keep employers from discriminating against victims of this economic recession, and give all job seekers a fair chance at a paycheck so they can make ends meet and provide for their families.”
The Fair Employment Opportunity Act of 2011 would make it illegal for employers and employment agencies to unfairly discriminate against unemployed job seekers, a counterproductive practice that persists in spite of high unemployment rates. According to NELP’s report, American employers, staffing agencies, and online job posting sites are using recruitment and hiring policies that expressly deny unemployed Americans from being considered for positions due to the fact that they are not currently working. NELP’s research found more than 150 ads that included exclusions based on current employment status. Of these ads, 75 percent were posted on CareerBuilder and Indeed. Since NELP’s report and the introduction of the Fair Employment Opportunity Act of 2011, Indeed.com—another job-placement website—has announced that it would ban job listings that discriminate against the unemployed.
The legislation would make it unlawful for an employer to a) refuse to consider for employment or refuse to offer employment to an individual because he/she is unemployed, b) include in any job advertisement or posting a provision that unemployed persons will not be considered or hired, or c) direct or request that an employment agency take into account an individual’s unemployed status in screening or referring applicants for employment.
Approximately 14 million Americans are unemployed, and according to NELP, more than six million of those have been jobless for longer than six months. There are nearly five unemployed jobseekers for each new job opening. Research conducted by NELP identified dozens of job listings from popular job-seeking websites such as CareerBuilder.com, Craigslist.org, and Monster.com excluding unemployed candidates from applying for jobs. According to NELP, the overwhelming majority of ads containing discriminatory language required that applicants “must be currently employed.”
Additionally, the discriminatory ads identified by NELP spanned across small, medium, and large employers—and for jobs at every skill level—suggesting that the practice of discriminating against jobless Americans could be more prevalent than NELP’s report indicates.
The full text of the letter is below.
Mr. Matt Ferguson
Chief Executive Officer
200 N. LaSalle St, Suite 1100
Chicago, IL 60601
Dear Mr. Ferguson:
We are writing to request that CareerBuilder prohibit companies from posting job opportunities that discriminate against potential applicants based on their employment status.
During this period of high unemployment, our nation’s economic recovery depends on new employment opportunities for unemployed workers. Job listing websites – including CareerBuilder – play a crucial role in helping connect unemployed workers with employment opportunities.
However, this intention to help connect individuals with job openings can be disrupted when websites include job postings that disqualify unemployed workers from applying. We have seen several job listings on CareerBuilder – many from our own states – that state applicants “must be currently employed” to apply for the open position. Although employers should have the right to staff according to their needs, preemptive discrimination not only harms those most in need of employment but can also arbitrarily deny employers with workers who are eager to contribute to the economy. For this reason, we introduced the Fair Employment Opportunity Act which would outlaw discrimination based on ones employment status.
Cleveland native Selena Forte’s story exemplifies how such policies can harm job-seeking individuals. Unemployed for two years, Ms. Forte was told by a recruiter for an employment agency that she would not be considered for a position because she had been out of work for too long. At 55-years old, Ms. Forte was not even given the chance to interview for a position that she was qualified for and is now barely making ends meet with a part-time job as a substitute school bus driver.
In Connecticut, Bethel resident Kim Keough shares a similar story. Ms. Keough is a 20 year veteran of the Human Resources profession. When she was laid off in 2008, she looked for work while receiving unemployment benefits, only able to secure part time work for minimum wage that is outside of her field. When she applied recently to an HR position, the recruiter informed her that the client would not consider anyone who was not currently employed. When she noted her part-time job, the recruiter said that was insufficient. Here, an individual who has done everything asked of her to find a job, and has shown a willingness to accept work when offered to her, is being punished for the simple fact that the only work she has found in a difficult economy is part-time.
Ms. Forte and Ms. Keough are not alone in their experiences. The National Employment Law Project (NELP) conducted informal research on discriminatory job postings in July. Through this research, they found more than 150 ads that included exclusions based on current employment status. Of these ads, 75 percent were posted on CareerBuilder and Indeed. Since then, Indeed has banned this exclusionary practice.
It is unreasonable and unfair to assume struggling Americans lost their job because of their work ethics or performance when so many businesses are struggling from financial hardship. We ask that you do your part and ensure that qualified workers, such as Selena and Kim, are given a fair chance at a job they need.
Thank you for your consideration and we look forward to your response.