The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) held hearings yesterday (Feb. 15, 2011) into the causes and consequences of a recent trend in hiring—the unemployed need not apply.

Phrases such as "no unemployed candidates will be considered" and "must be currently employed" are now peppering job postings and want ads. This has the EEOC concerned that such policies likely will have a disparate impact on minorities.

Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project, testified that the trend was unfair to applicants because “it potentially violates basic civil rights protections because of the disparate impact” on various population groups that have higher unemployment rates than average.

indeed, statistics show that Latins have a 50-percent higher unemployment rate than whites and that the unemployment rate for African-Americans is twice that of whites.

In a written statement after the event, EEOC Chair Jacqueline Berrien said:

“Throughout its 45 year history, the EEOC has identified and remedied discrimination in hiring and remains committed to ensuring job applicants are treated fairly. Today’s meeting gave the commission an important opportunity to learn about the emerging practice of excluding unemployed persons from applicant pools.”

With discrimination filings reaching record levels at the EEOC, employers must be cautious in all policy decisions regarding employees and applicants. Though it is a not-well-concealed secret that many employers wish to see only employed job applicants, it is also imperative to observe all applicable anti-discrimination laws and regulations.

Personnel Concepts'  EEO Compliance Program will help businesses formulate a strong equal employment opportunity policy that will keep them in compliance with relevant anti-discrimination laws and regulations.