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What does a worker who has only been out of work for a month have in common with one who has been unemployed for six months to a year? It appears they are both just as likely to be rejected for job based on their employment status (or lack thereof), even as legislators move to make “unemployed discrimination” illegal.

A recent Huffington Post article discusses a study in which 47 human resource professionals were asked to review resumes that were identical except that half stated the candidate was currently employed, and the other half indicated the candidate had been unemployed for one month.  The HR professionalsgave the currently employed candidate higher marks for competence and hireability.

The study also found that unemployed candidates who are laid off are not viewed any more favorably than those who quit their jobs. However, candidates who were laid off because the company went under do appear to get more sympathy.

Employer’s preference for selecting candidates who are currently employed is nothing new, but the practice came under fire last year when job postings emerged specifically stating that unemployed candidates would not be considered.  As a result, lawmakers on both the state and federal level have considered legislation against unemployed discrimination. New Jersey passed a law last year banning job ads that are found to discriminate against unemployed candidates. This past May, the District of Columbia took it a step farther with legislation that made unemployed status a protected class, according to the Littler Mendelson law firm. The law makes it illegal for employers in the District of Columbia to refuse to hire candidates based on their employment statuses.

So what are you seeing out there in the trenches? Do employers tend to reject unemployed candidates, even if they have only been out of work a short amount of time?

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