Ohio businesses will not be able to say they’re only interested in hiring or interviewing currently employed people, if a bill pushed by House Democrats goes through. “There are still an enormous number of people who are getting a message that, because they are unemployed, they are not welcome to apply for jobs,” State Rep. Ted Celeste, a Democrat co-sponsoring the bill, told the Columbus Dispatch
The bill, which he calls the Ohio Fair Employment Act, would prevent unemployment discrimination.
“The message for people who have been out of work for weeks, months and years, is that even though you may have terrific credentials, if you’re not working now, we don’t want you,” said Celeste, who is sponsoring the bill with Rep. Mike Foley, D-Cleveland. “It is our hope this legislation will encourage employers to understand that there is tremendous value in those folks who happen to be unemployed.”
The bill only addresses advertising, but not whether an employer can later discount all unemployed applicants. However, if the bill passes, employers who don’t follow the law would become subject to civil penalties and an Ohio Civil Rights Commission investigation.
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and President Barack Obama are also pushing for a federal prohibition against disqualifying applicants for being unemployed.
The Ohio Chamber of Commerce plans to oppose the bill because it believes employers should be allowed to use their own judgment when hiring, said Linda Woggon, the chamber's executive vice president.
Woggon said accepting applications from unemployed people can cause a business problems.
“You just get flooded with resumes from people who aren’t qualified for jobs,” she said. “They’re just applying out of desperation. It’s really difficult when you’re in that situation that you’re getting the most highly qualified people with the skills you’re looking for.”
However, Gailmarie Harris, director of youth services for the Central Ohio Workforce Investment Corporation, said it’s very discouraging to see ads that essentially tell unemployed people they should not apply.
“When you are looking for work, it’s a very daunting process. People lose momentum when they see this type of advertising,” Harris said.
“I think a lot of employers perceive that a person who’s working may be a better fit because they haven’t had time to get depressed or lose those basic skills or behaviors required for work,” she said. “But I think that’s a stereotype. I think a lot of people would be happy to jump in and hit the ground running if they had the opportunity.”
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