Monday, March 7, 2011

Can't get a job? Then you must not have one already

Let's hear a "Hallelujah!" from the congregation on this one: that employers seeking only currently employed applicants for advertised openings may need to rethink that strategy.

You probably know this as the need-a-job-to-get-a-job maxim. By any name, it stinks. But whether it's illegal is not so black and white, as you'll see from this segment that aired today on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street":

As explained by Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project, policies that are neutral on their face ("no layoff candidates") but that fall more heavily on particular groups -- African Americans, women, older workers -- "can be illegal under certain circumstances."

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is investigating.

Owens says no law or regulation mandates that an employer consider for a job someone who is unqualified. "But," she says, "if someone is qualified, except for the fact that he or she hasn't recently been employed in that job [field], that's a very arbitrary kind of exclusion."

As an act of discrimination, "It's hard to prove," Owens adds. "But it's not impossible to prove."

If ever there's a class action on this, I just might sign up.

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