For the millions of unemployed people tired of receiving a steady stream of job rejection letters, the problem may not necessarily be their skill set so much as it is their status. According to Colorlines, human resource departments have admitted that they look for applicants who are already employed—a discrimination practice with no current law in place to protect those it bars from job security.
To address this issue, House Democrats Jesse Jackson Jr. and Hank Johnson are taking a stand on job discrimination practices against the unemployed by introducing the Fair Employment Act of 2011. This act would amend the Civil Rights Act and prevent discrimination based on current employment status.
Johnson voices his reasons for the new proposed act, declaring that “discrimination against the unemployed smacks of days gone by when signs read, ‘women need not apply,’ ‘Irish need not apply’ or ‘no Blacks allowed.’ I’m going to do all I can to fight for the unemployed,” he said.
It’s a fact that the longer a person has been unemployed, the harder it becomes to find a job. Statistics from the Department of Labor reveal that after about five weeks of unemployment, persons are re-employed at about 3.1 percent, which drops to 8.7 percent after one year. More than six million people have been out of work for at least six years, Colorlines reports, but black Americans currently account for the highest percentage of unemployment at over 15 percent. Although a report from the Economic Policy Institute reports that 2.8 million new jobs were created in January, there were 13.9 million unemployed.
It’s safe to say that for many Americans, especially African-Americans, the proposed Fair Employment Act of 2011 could do a lot of good.