Protecting the Unemployed, In Theory

by Anthony Stasi
Jan 31, 2013 | 19380 views | 0 0 comments | 518 518 recommendations | email to a friend | print
There is a lot of unfair activity when it comes to (not) hiring people, especially when you get to higher levels of industry. The bill that recently passed in the City Council would make it out of bounds
for potential employers to make applicants’ employment status a reason to not hire someone.

A law like this makes sense in theory, but in reality it may not be very effective. Employers can simply cite other reasons to say no.
The good part of the bill is that employers would not be able to state in writing that an applicant be employed in order to first apply for a job. Making present employment a requirement makes no sense at all.
By nixing applicants without current employment, an entire category of people who may have just moved here would be ineligible.

This has happened on the federal level as well. One would think the federal government would be the first to ban this practice, since it shells out all of that unemployment insurance.
The bad part about legislation that bans the unemployed is that those doing the hiring can find other reasons to never call a person in for an interview. The people first reading a submitted resume are almost never the person who interviews or hires a person. This means that the best candidates can be overlooked right away.

Those lengthy lists of qualifications are there for a reason. They know that nobody could have gained all of that experience. They sometimes make those lists so there is always a reason to say no to somebody. I once left a position and then saw my old job posted online. The requirements
listed were things I never did before.
How often do major financial companies – right here in New York City – ask for 8 to 10 years of experience for a position and then turn around and hire someone fresh out of an Ivy League college or top business school? And the results of these practices speak for themselves. That industry does not mind finding the rest of us when they need to be bailed out though.

Human resources people can sometimes make broad assumptions right away. A hiring professional at a company where I once worked told me that if someone came into an interview with minty breath, she took it as a sign that they had an alcohol dependency issue. This woman creates a whole back story for a person who might just have fresh breath. But if you find yourself at this point, you are at the interview stage, so it’s on you to make it.

There are all kinds of discrimination that government may not be able to quell. Take political science professor Keith Whittington, for example. If you think you have great credentials, Whittington had his
master’s degree and Ph.D. from Yale University and still had trouble getting hired in academia.

Whittington’s crime was that he once wrote a published article about Senator John C. Calhoun. Calhoun was a Democratic senator who died in 1850, but that was enough for many political science departments to think that Whittington might be too conservative because Calhoun was from the South.

Might be conservative.

Whittington found work at a smaller university, but only getting that gig by a slim margin. The man who hired him told me that nobody would give him a shot. Today, Whittington is a popular professor at Princeton University, and most academies would love to have him.

If they had only interviewed him in the first place, they would have known who he was. So there is discrimination in all kinds of places, but we cannot expect government to focus too greatly on it.
The mayor opposes this legislation because he feels that it would add a bunch of petty lawsuits to an already packed legal system. If employers cannot ask a person if they are unemployed, they may just
assume it – and then make up their own reasons to not hire someone.
But the part of the bill that focuses on how job postings are written is still worthwhile. The City Council should be applauded for taking a step in the right direction, even if this gets vetoed.

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