"Discrimination" Against the Long-Term Unemployed

"Discrimination" Against the Long-Term Unemployed

How is "Long- Term Unemployment" Defined

If you have been unemployed for more than 6 months, you are considered "long-term unemployed."

According to data collected via a recent study completed by HuffPost, 40% of those that have become unemployed since 2009 fit that criteria.  They are often referred to as "chronically unemployed," an even more painful moniker.

According to the study, the 40% figure equatres to "the highest rate of long-term joblessness the country has seen since at least the 1940s, according to the Labor Department. As of March, that's 4.6 million people."

What Are the Chances of Finding Work if You Are Chronically Unemployed?

The HuffPost study found that applicants with pertinent experience that have been out of work for more than 6 months are less favored than a recently employed applicant with little or no experience. 

What is ILLEGAL Workplace Discrimination?

The definition of "discrimination" is "the act of making a distinction." We discriminate everyday when selecting our outfits, who we choose to engage with and what route we decide to take to and from work.

Prior to the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title II"), the term "discrimination" was rarely used in the context of employment. Since that time, the term has evolved into a catch-phrase to characterize every workplace problem that is deemed incorrect or unfair, i.e. "there must be a secret, nefarious reason that I am disfavored at work having nothing to do with my personality or performance."

Title VII, and other federal laws such as the Americans With Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, etc., have led to a clear definition of illegal workplace discrimination, to wit, distinguishing between workers based upon their sex, race, age, national origin, disability and/or religious beliefs, and making hiring and firing decisions based thereon.

Why Discrimination Against Unemployed is NOT Illegal Discrimination

Discrimination against the unemployed may be rampant, but it is not illegal.  In fact,  referring to this obviously distasteful hiring  practice as "discrimination" is misleading.  Simply stated, and like it or not, one's status as "chronically unemployed" is not protected under federal discrimination laws, and therefore does not constitute illegal discrimination. 

New York City has passed a law that makes hiring choices based upon employment status unlawful (I believe it becomes effective in June 2013);  this is the only known state or municipal law of its kind.

In 2011, President Obama implored Congress to create a similar ban.  This request fell on deaf ears.  Consequently, choosing not to hire an applicant on the grounds of his/her employment status is not illegal discrimination under federal law, nor is it unlawful anywhere with the exception of New York City.

Read more articles about employment law issues at Philadelphia Area Employment Lawyer, a blog by John A. Gallagher.

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