Tuesday, March 01, 2011

IN THE NEWS: Out of Work, Out of Luck? EEOC Examines Employers’ Treatment of Unemployed Job Applicants at Hearing

WASHINGTON—In a public meeting held on February 16th, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) examined the impact of employers considering only those currently employed for job vacancies.

“Throughout its 45 year history, the EEOC has identified and remedied discrimination in hiring and remains committed to ensuring job applicants are treated fairly,” said EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien. “Today’s meeting gave the Commission an important opportunity to learn about the emerging practice of excluding unemployed persons from applicant pools.”

According to Helen Norton, Associate Professor at the University of Colorado School of Law, employers and staffing agencies have publicly advertised jobs in fields ranging from electronic engineers to restaurant and grocery managers to mortgage underwriters with the explicit restriction that only currently employed candidates will be considered. “Some employers may use current employment as a signal of quality job performance,” Norton testified. “But such a correlation is decidedly weak. A blanket reliance on current employment serves as a poor proxy for successful job performance.”

“The use of an individual’s current or recent unemployment status as a hiring selection device is a troubling development in the labor market,” said Fatima Goss Graves, Vice President for Education and Employment of the National Women’s Law Center. She noted that this practice “may well act as a negative counterweight” to government efforts to get people back to work. Women, particularly older women and those in non-traditional occupations, are disproportionately affected by this restriction, testified Goss Graves.

Denying jobs to the already-unemployed can also have a disproportionate effect on certain racial and ethnic minority community members, Algernon Austin, Director of the Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy of the Economic Policy Institute, explained. Unemployment rates for African-Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans are higher than those of whites. When comparing college-educated workers, the unemployment rate for Asians is also higher. Thus, restricting applications to the currently employed could place a heavier burden on people of color, he concluded.

The use of employment status to screen job applicants could also seriously impact people with disabilities, according to Joyce Bender, an expert in the employment of people with disabilities. “Given my experience, I can say without a doubt that the practice of excluding persons who are currently unemployed from applicant pools is real and can have a negative impact on persons with disabilities,” Bender told the Commission.

Dr. William Spriggs, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Policy, offered data supporting this testimony. Spriggs presented current national employment statistics showing that African-Americans and Hispanics are overrepresented among the unemployed. He also stated that excluding the unemployed would be more likely to limit opportunities for older applicants as well as persons with disabilities.

“At a moment when we all should be doing whatever we can to open up job opportunities to the unemployed, it is profoundly disturbing that the trend of deliberately excluding the jobless from work opportunities is on the rise,” said Christine Owens, Executive Director of the National Employment Law Project. In addition to presenting statistical evidence, she recounted stories unemployed workers have shared with her organization where they were told directly that they would not be considered for employment due to being unemployed.

James Urban, a partner at the Jones Day law firm, who counsels employers, expressed doubt as to the extent of the problem. Fernan Cepero, representing the Society of Human Resource Professionals, told the Commission that his organization is not aware of this practice being in regular use. But both Mr. Urban and Mr. Cepero noted that the automatic exclusion of unemployed persons from consideration does not constitute “due diligence” in the screening of job applicants.

The EEOC enforces the nation’s laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available at www.eeoc.gov. Materials from this Commission meeting, including statements and biographies of the witnesses, may be found at http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/meetings/2-16-11/index.cfm.

Source: http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/2-16-11.cfm

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The EEOC wanted to represent every interest so it chose two organizations, Jones Day and SHRM to represent employers. Both of these organizations are extremely pro-employer (a fact not lost on the EEOC) and would never provide honest answers about the unemployed facing negative hiring practices simply because they are unemployed. As a side note, SHRM is anti- anything that prevents an employer from running its shop anyway it sees fit.

SHRM even went so far as to ask its membership to come out strongly against the National Labor Relations Board’s proposal to require employers to place a notice notifying employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act. SHRM provided the suggested language its mind-controlled membership came out in droves:

HR professionals understand and value the critical role of employees to the success of any workplace and we strive to make the most of employee talent in both union and non-union environments. As an HR professional, I understand employee rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) to form, join, assist in or refrain from joining a union without threats, interrogation, promises of benefits, or coercion by employers or unions.

I am concerned about the National Labor Relations Board's (NLRB) proposed rule requiring nearly all employers to post a notice under the NLRA for several reasons. The proposed notice is not a fair explanation of rights because it fails to inform employees of their right to decertify or withdraw from third-party union representation, to seek relief from a union's failure to represent employees fairly, or object to payment of union dues or fees for political purposes. In addition, the rule proposes unfair penalties including finding a failure to post to be an unfair labor practice and suspending the statute of limitations for filing an unfair labor practice charge. Unlike many federal statutes that HR professionals implement on a daily basis, the NLRA itself does not require posting such a notice. For these reasons, I respectfully request that the NLRB withdraw this proposed rule.

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The EEOC needs to be revamped because in actuality they certify less than 5% of complaints received even though the complaints prove discrimination. The EEOC is just as corrupt as many of the organizations they are supposed to investigate.

6:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Anonymous. The EEOC wasted my time, and I have a lawyer friend that used to work for them and says they're useless.

4:52 PM  

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