Apparently some people are putting that line in their job listings.
Unfair but not completely illegal, some employers have supposedly been stipulating in job postings that unemployed individuals need not apply.
Some reasons for this discrimination: concerns over "atrophied" job skills from lack of use, and the question of whether or not the person is employable if they were let go from a previous job.
This caused Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) to push for legislation called the Fair Employment Act of 2011, which would include the unemployed on the Civil Rights Act Title VII's list of protected job applicants who cannot be discriminated against.
Johnson's bill, which is co-sponsored by Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., asks that it be illegal for employers to deny a job to, or decrease the compensation of, an individual due to employment status.
The National Employment Law Project (NELP), an organization dedicated to fighting for economic opportunity and workers' rights, is investigating claims of unemployment discrimination. NELP's federal advocacy coordinator, Judy Conti, told Staffing Talk that anonymous sources have pointed fingers at staffing agencies.
However, it is unclear which staffing companies, if any, have actually engaged in this behavior.
Though she declined to give specific examples, Conti said she has heard some companies will ask that recruiters only send them the resumes of employed individuals. “Would a company get away with asking for only females, or only African-American applicants?” Conti asks rhetorically.
"You can't exclude the unemployed just because they are unemployed," Conti said. "There are so many reasons that people have lost their jobs in this economy."
"It is among staffing firms that the process seems to be most rampant and virulent," Conti said. "It's the best way for this to fly beneath the radar."
Stephen Dwyer, general counsel for the American Staffing Association, begs to differ.
Dwyer told Staffing Talk that the ASA was made aware of the issue by the EEOC on the matter, and on speaking with a number of its staffing members, ASA was told the companies were "uniformly unaware of any such request" for employed applicants only.
Dwyer did say that the EEOC pointed to one unnamed firm that apparently posted an ad saying they preferred employed applicants, but added, "That is by far the exception. It is not representative by the majority of the staffing firms.
The uniform response was that we don't engage in this behavior. I think the vast majority of the firms are not engaging in this behavior."
When asked if there might be some underhanded discrimination going on among other firms, Dwyer was firm in saying this was not the case.
Although there will always be outlying firms that "march to the beat of their own drum," Dwyer said this "is not, by any means, the majority practice."
In fact, Dwyer said, "One of our major benefits is to educate our members so as to keep them out of trouble and ... to protect the rights of our workers."
New Jersey has paved the way for other states, having just passed the first law of this kind. I can't help but wonder if this is a real problem or just a political publicity stunt.
Any company convicted of this doing this could face up to $1,000 for a first offense and $5,000, subsequently.
Have you ever seen a company do this before? Everyone I ask says “no.” I’ve never seen this even once in my life. If it is so rampant, why can’t anyone tell us one company that’s done it? Just one example, anywhere?
Do your customers prefer people that are already employed? If so, tell us why!