In that context, the National Employment Law Project's finding widespread discrimination against unemployed jobseekers is especially troubling:
NELP’s snapshot of jobs postings identified more than 150 ads that included exclusions based on current employment status, including 125 ads that identified specific companies by name. The overwhelming majority of the offending ads required that applicants “must be currently employed.” CareerBuilder.com and Indeed.com accounted for more than 75 percent of the exclusionary ads NELP identified. Staffing firms were prominently represented among those companies identified with the practice of excluding unemployed job seekers, accounting for about half of all the postings.
Significantly, the fact that NELP’s relatively limited research yielded such a broad cross-section of exclusionary ads—with postings for jobs throughout the United States, by small, medium and large employers, for white collar, blue collar, and service sector jobs, at virtually every skill level—suggests that the practice of excluding unemployed job seekers could be far more extensive than depicted in this limited sample.
Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Hank Johnson (D-GA) have introduced the Fair Employment Opportunity Act of 2011 in the House:
The Fair Employment Opportunity Act will prevent employers and employment agencies from refusing to consider or offer employment to someone who is unemployed, or including language in any job advertisements or postings that states unemployed individuals are not qualified.
It seems like a safe bet that Republicans will oppose this; after all, Democrats proposed it and it helps non-wealthy people. However, with NELP reporting that a recent poll found two-to-one support for a ban on discrimination against the unemployed, it'll be interesting to watch Republicans try to justify their opposition.