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Job required to be hired? Lawmaker targets policy

December 20, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
"Must be currently employed": That's what many job ads are saying, and the number is growing. One state lawmaker is trying to stop that practice.

Education or experience may not be enough these days. Dispatcher and employee-benefits manager are among the Southern California job listings in 2011 that required applicants to also be currently employed.

Darrell Jamerson has been looking for work for two years. The unemployed truck driver has come across numerous "help wanted" ads requiring him to have a job in order to apply.

"When someone says 'Well, you haven't been working,' that's kind of like taking a shot at you," said Jamerson.

Others looking for work are appalled that the practice is even allowed.

"I don't think it's right that we have to be employed to get a job. Because that seems kind of unfair," said unemployed mechanical engineer Hilton Pendarvis.

A report this past summer by the National Employment Law Project (NELP) found the "must be employed" requirement is catching on. In California, it found several positions, including mechanic, sales manager and professor, where the unemployed need not apply.

"To me the whole idea that you have to be employed to be employed is crazy," said state Assemblyman Mike Allen (D-San Rafael).

Allen is about to introduce a bill next month making it illegal to advertise a job requiring that applicants be employed.

More than 2 million Californians are currently out of work.

"So to take a whole class of people and say you can't even compete for a job, and you can't even apply? To me, that is cruel and it's unfair and it's wrong, and it's discriminatory," said Allen.

It's unclear why some employers wanted applicants who have jobs. They'll get a chance to oppose the bill during committee hearings.

But the NELP report suggests they either don't want to be slammed with resumes, or recruiters think workers with jobs are more likely to perform better.

Darrell Jamerson just wants companies to stop excluding him.

"It's not right because the way the economy is, a lot of people are not employed right now," said Jamerson.

New Jersey already bans job ads from saying applicants to be working. Several states, plus the federal government, are trying to do the same.


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