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Cities aim to end employment discrimination against unemployed

As the jobs market continues to improve, many people who may have been out of work for some time here in Houston may finally find themselves actively seeking employment again. Unfortunately, it is often true that the longer a person is out of work, the harder it is for them to find a job. This is because some employers in Texas may discriminate against out-of-work job candidates.

Currently, this type of employment workplace discrimination is legal in Texas, but several other states and cities are moving to break down this barrier to employment.

This week, New York City became the fourth area to ban employers from requiring that job applicants are currently employed. New Jersey, Oregon and Washington, D.C., already have similar measures in place.

The ban was controversial in New York, where some employers think that there are real reasons why employers want job applicants to be employed already. One of these is that they want to hire people whose skills are not rusty. Another is that employers want to avoid facing discrimination complaints from unsuccessful applicants.

New York's law is the only one that actually does allow job applicants to sue employers if they feel they were rejected on the basis of their unemployment. The other localities with discrimination bans do not allow litigation.

Many people do feel that it is very unfair to discriminate against the unemployed. It makes no sense, they say, for a person to need to have a job in order to get a job.

Here in Texas, job seekers do not yet have a protection from this type of discrimination, even though on average one in three unemployed people in the U.S. has been looking for work for work for at least six months. Those in Texas who feel that any other type of discrimination may have played a role in a job rejection would still be wise to discuss their experience with an employment law professional.

Source: New York Business Journal, "New Yorkers will now be able to get a job without having a job," March 14, 2013

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