Lawmaker wants to ban 'already employed' job ads

December 21, 2011 12:30:50 AM PST
A Bay Area lawmaker wants to end the discrimination that unemployed people are finding as they try to look for work: Some job candidates are told they have to have a job before they can apply for a job.

Education and experience may not be enough these days. "Financial advisor" and "scientist" were among the Bay Area job listings in 2011 that required job applicants to also be currently employed.

Darrel Jamerson has been looking for work for two years. The unemployed truck driver has come across numerous "help wanted" ads that require him to have a job in order to apply.

"When someone says, 'Well you haven't been working,' that's kind of like taking a shot at you," Jamerson said.

Others looking for work are appalled the practice is even allowed.

"I don't think it's right that they should have to be employed to get a job," said unemployed mechanical engineer Hilton Pendarvis. "That seems kind of unfair."

A report this past summer by the National Employment Law Project found that the "must be employed" requirement is catching on. In California, it found several positions including mechanic, sales manager and professor where the unemployed need not apply.

"To me, the whole idea that you have to be 'employed' to be employed is crazy," said Assemblyman Mike Allen, D-San Rafael.

Allen is about to introduce a bill next month that would make it illegal to advertise a job requiring that applicants be employed. More than two million Californians are currently out of work.

"To take a whole class of people and say you can't even compete for a job, and you can't even apply -- to me, that is cruel," said Allen. "It's unfair, it's wrong and it's discriminatory."

It's unclear why some employers want applicants who have jobs -- they'll get a chance to oppose the bill during committee hearings. The NELP report suggests some employers don't want to be slammed with resumes or recruiters think workers with jobs are more likely to perform better.

Jamerson just wants companies to stop excluding him.

"It's not right because, the way the economy is, a lot of people are not employed right now," Jamerson said.

New Jersey already bans job ads from saying applicants must already be working. Several other states and the federal government are trying to do the same.

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