Obama Proposes Letting Unemployed Sue for Discrimination

Law would forbid employers from passing over an applicant because he's out of a job

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President Obama's jobs bill proposes making being unemployed a protected status -- meaning it would be "an unlawful employment practice" to decide not to hire someone because he or she doesn't have a job, The New York Times' Robert Pear reports. That would put joblessness on par with race, color, religion, sex, and national origin, meaning job applicants who think they were shot down because they haven't had a job would be able to sue. Job ad websites would be banned from blocking the unemployed. (Some employers have posted ads warning, "no unemployed candidates will be considered.")

"White House officials see discrimination against the unemployed as a serious problem," Pear writes, and last month Obama condemned such discrimination, given that 14 million people are out of work (above, a man unemployed for 10 months waits in line for a job fair in Portland this month). But some Republicans think the rule would just lead to a bunch of lawsuits. Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert said the message would be: "If you're unemployed and you go to apply for a job, and you’re not hired for that job, see a lawyer. You may be able to file a claim because you got discriminated against because you were unemployed."
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