Discriminating against the unemployed in hiring

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, March 30, 2012

A bill which would prohibit private employers from discriminating against currently unemployed applicants in the hiring process passed its first legislative committee this week.  AB 1450 (Michael Allen, D-Napa) was voted out of Assembly Labor and Employment Committee on a 5-1 partisan vote.

While some members of the committee expressed concern with the implementation issues and litigation risk raised by CMTA and other opponents, they still granted the author the “courtesy vote” needed to advance the measure on.

During testimony, the co-sponsors (California Labor Federation, California Alliance of Retired Americans and California Employment Lawyers Association) stated that their intent is not to interfere with the employment interview process but to stop the blanket discrimination of the unemployed and would be willing to consider additional language to clarify this point.  However, the author was unresponsive when asked by his colleague if he would take amendments that would limit the bill’s prohibition to job postings and hiring advertisements – the vehicles through which this inappropriate practice of excluding unemployed applicants became an issue.

AB 1450 inappropriately intrudes into the hiring practices of employers. Under this bill, employers would be prevented from asking legitimate questions regarding a candidate’s employment history for fear that such questions might accidently reveal the candidate’s current unemployed status.  In addition, currently unemployed candidates who are not selected for a job could subsequently allege discrimination based on their employment status.  Either such actions would subject the employer to fees, penalties, an administrative claim through the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) as well as potential litigation under a Private Attorney General Act (PAGA) or Unfair Business Practices claim.

AB 1450 is double-referred to two legislative committees.  Having passed out of Assembly Labor and Employment, it will be heard next in the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

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