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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: December 19, 2018 12:59 PM
From: Senator Sharif Street
To: All Senate members
Subject: Prohibiting Employment Discrimination Based on Unemployment Status
In the near future, I will reintroduce legislation designed to prohibit potential employers from discriminating based on a job applicant’s unemployment status.

Those who have been unemployed for a lengthy period may be at a disadvantage in the job market, making it even more difficult for them to find work. According to various media reports, many help-wanted ads indicate the employer will only accept applications from the currently employed or recently unemployed. These policies have a disparate impact on older workers and minorities.

A stigma persists that unemployed and laid-off workers are to blame for their situation, perhaps due to poor work ethic or bad personalities. Because of this, studies show that some employers have begun discriminating against unemployed and laid-off workers when they apply for work. Research indicates that applicants who had been unemployed for just one month were seen as less hirable to HR professionals. This bias worsens the longer an individual is out of work.

While there is no federal law prohibiting discrimination against the unemployed, New Jersey became the first state to do so in 2011, followed by Oregon the District of Columbia in 2012.

This bill would make it unlawful for any employer or employment agency to use an applicant’s unemployment status as a factor to consider with regard to the hiring or compensation level of the applicant.

If you have questions about this legislation, please contact my Policy Director, Micah Mahjoubian at micah@pasenate.com.

Introduced as SB68