Anti-unemployment discrimination bill passes nj senate
If you’re one of the thousands of New Jersey residents who are unemployed and still looking for a job, the State Senate delivered you some good news on Monday, May 12. A bill prohibiting employers from using employment status as a condition of hiring passed through the state senate, 23-13, moving it on to the Assembly.
Under bill-S1440, employers would be permitted to inquire about potential employees’ work history and why they were fired or left the job, but it cannot factor into their hiring decision. Employers would also be allowed to limit job searches to in-house candidates who already work for them.
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Middlesex County Democratic Senator Peter Barnes was one of the bill’s sponsors and said that statistics prove that unemployed New Jerseyans have stopped looking for work in recent months. That sparked the need for this bill, he said.
“Over the last few years, we have seen record numbers of unemployed New Jerseyans simply stop looking for work, and I believe discrimination of the unemployed is contributing to this problem,” Sen. Barnes was quoted as saying in a press release. “When someone continues to be shut out of employment opportunities, not because they aren’t qualified for the position, but rather because they have hit a period of bad luck, these individuals may become discouraged and stop actively-looking for work.”
While this is potentially great news for the state’s workforce, it’s not super news for employers who now have to worry about potential discrimination lawsuits if they don’t hire someone who has been unemployed for a while. In addition, how would anyone truly know whether employment status played a role in a person’s hiring?
If the bill passes through the Assembly and gets signed by Gov. Chris Christie, employers who violate the law would face fines of up to $1,000 on the first offense, $5,000 on the second offense, and $10,000 for every subsequent offense afterward.
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