Don't have a job? California bill would keep employers from screening you out

Job applicants sought – but only if they don't need work.

The message in some job advertisements these days is pretty blunt: Don't bother sending a résumé if you're not bringing home a paycheck already.

The ads list current or recent employment as an eligibility requirement, a screen to narrow the pool of candidates in a rocky economy that often leads to dozens of applicants for a single job.

A random search of online job listings last year by the National Employment Law Project, a nonprofit advocacy group, found 150 ads nationwide that excluded applicants based on employment status. Most of them said "must be currently employed," the group reported.

"So many people are unemployed for such long periods of time that this kind of discrimination has a devastating impact," said Maurice Emsellem, NELP's policy co-director.

New Jersey has passed a law banning such advertisements, federal legislation is pending, and a newly proposed California bill, Assembly Bill 1450, would prohibit discriminating against the jobless in hiring.

"It's the same as excluding a particular religion or minority group – it's wrong," said Assemblyman Michael Allen, a Santa Rosa Democrat, who is the author of AB 1450.

College graduates, military personnel and women returning to the workforce are among groups of people affected by a blanket exclusion, Allen said.

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