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Is it Illegal for Someone Not to Hire me Because I'm Unemployed?

It's always easier to get a job when you already have one. Even when the economy is in the dumps, employers view the unemployed as damaged goods. At best, you'll have to explain any gaps in your resume. At worst, you won't get an interview at all. But what about when you run across an 

ad for a job that specifies only employed candidates should apply? Is that legal?

New Jersey, Oregon, Washington D.C., and Chicago have passed legislation that makes it illegal to post jobs with a requirement that the applicant be currently employed. Iowa is currently considering such a bill. Many other states have considered such a move but not passed them yet. In 2011, the Obama Administration introduced the Fair Employment Opportunity Act, a bill that would make it illegal not to consider unemployed candidates, but the legislation was shelved due to concerns about litigation costs for small businesses.

In West Virginia, it's not illegal to consider unemployment status when hiring, and it's also not illegal to specify in a job listing that only employed applicants will be considered. West Virginia has already both considered and rejected such legislation. However, the equal opportunity commission has considered making unemployed individuals a protected class under Title VII since a large portion of the unemployed population is made up of protected classes, such as minorities, the elderly and the disabled.

If you have been the target of workplace harassment, discrimination or unfair termination, Bouchillon, Crossan & Colburn, L.C. represents clients in federal court and before the EEOC, MSPB and in state and union grievance hearings.

Our attorneys have more than 35 years dedicated to giving clients the attention, advice, support and empowerment they need to effectively meet their goals. We are committed to the principle that all persons shall have equal justice under the law. Call Bouchillon, Crossan & Colburn, L.C. at 304.523.8451 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.

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