By ROBERT DIGITALE
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
It’s the ultimate dilemma for job-seekers: To get a job, some employers require you to have a job.
Such hiring policies would be illegal under a bill proposed by Assemblyman Michael Allen, D-San Rafael.
His measure, AB 1450, would impose fines on employers or employment agencies that refuse to consider out-of-work applicants for job openings.
Such policies are currently legal but encourage a permanent underclass, Allen said.
“Once you go into the unemployed bin, you stay in that bin,” he said.
Similar legislative efforts are underway in Congress. And New Jersey has passed a state law prohibiting advertisements stating that only the employed may apply for a job, according to the National Unemployment Law Project, a New York-based advocacy group that supports Allen’s bill.
With the nation’s unemployment rate at 8.5 percent, the jobless “should not be penalized for the fact that there’s only one job publicized for every four unemployed workers,” said Maurice Emsellem, a policy co-director in the group’s Oakland office.
Last summer the group published a report on the issue. The researchers “found a lot of ads very quickly” containing language that set current employment as a requirement for those wishing to apply for work, Emsellem said.
“That led us to believe it was a pretty common practice,” he said.
Allen said the advocacy group brought the issue to his attention.
The California Chamber of Commerce said Tuesday that it has yet to take a position on the bill.
Business groups are “mulling” the legislation, Allen said. He suggested that their biggest concern to date has been whether the bill amounts to “interfering” with who ultimately gets hired.
“That’s not what this bill is about,” Allen said. His bill focuses on the screening process by businesses and employment agencies, not on the final hiring selection.