In an October 14 editorial, The Washington Times attacked a provision of President Obama's American Jobs Act (AJA) aimed at preventing discrimination against the unemployed, claiming it would expose employers to "frivolous lawsuits if they decide against hiring someone who has been jobless for an extended time." But the Times failed to note that the AJA also protects employers' right to consider "reasons underlying an individual's status as unemployed."
Washington Times Suggests Jobs Act Puts Employers At Risk For Not Hiring Long-Term Unemployed
Washington Times Claims Jobs Act Creates Punitive "Disincentive For Companies" To Hire Unemployed. An October 14 Washington Times editorial suggested that a provision in the AJA would expose employers to "frivolous lawsuits if they decide against hiring someone who has been jobless for an extended time." From the editorial:
The longer a person is unemployed, the harder it is for him to find a job, as job skills erode and potential employers question whether it might be more prudent to hire someone else without big gaps in their work history.
Mr. Obama's solution involves having the federal government declare the long-term unemployed a legally protected class. His American Jobs Act would subject businesses to frivolous lawsuits if they decide against hiring someone who has been jobless for an extended time. Doing so would serve as one more disincentive for companies to hire or hold interviews for open positions, making it even harder for the jobless to find work. [The Washington Times, 10/14/11]
But The AJA Only Prevents Discrimination Based Purely On Employment Status
AJA Prevents Discrimination "Because Of The Individual's Status As Unemployed." The portion of the AJA titled the "Fair Employment Opportunity Act of 2011" prevents hiring discrimination against an unemployed person "because of that individual's status as unemployed." From the American Jobs Act:
(1) to prohibit employers and employment agencies from disqualifying an individual from employment opportunities because of that individual's status as unemployed;
(2) to prohibit employers and employment agencies from publishing or posting any advertisement or announcement for an employment opportunity that indicates that an individual's status as unemployed disqualifies that individual for the opportunity; and
(3) to eliminate the burdens imposed on commerce due to the exclusion of such individuals from employment. [American Jobs Act of 2011, 9/12/11]
The AJA Further Protects Employers' Right To Consider Applicants' Reasons For Unemployment
AJA: "Nothing In This Act Is Intended To Preclude An Employer Or Employment Agency From Considering An Individual's Employment History." The AJA protects employers' right to "examin[e] the reasons underlying an individual's status as unemployed." From the American Jobs Act:
Nothing in this Act is intended to preclude an employer or employment agency from considering an individual's employment history, or from examining the reasons underlying an individual's status as unemployed, in assessing an individual's ability to perform a job or in otherwise making employment decisions about that individual. Such consideration or examination may include an assessment of whether an individual's employment in a similar or related job for a period of time reasonably proximate to the consideration of such individual for employment is job-related or consistent with business necessity. [American Jobs Act of 2011, 9/12/11, emphasis added]