October 6th, 2011
By: Wendy Powell
The unemployment rate is holding firm; companies continue their refusal to hire the unemployed. We wonder what more a nation of desperate job seekers can endure. They are terrified and we can all become a member of that class of people, the unemployed.
The broad assumption is that if job candidates are unemployed, they must be damaged goods. Companies think, they wouldn’t have been laid off if they had added value to their company; They weren’t part of the cream of the crop who survived. Think again, companies are desperate for survival. Banks aren’t lending, companies can’t expand, government is regulating, and companies are eliminating positions that include highly paid, and imminently qualified individuals they unfortunately could not afford to retain.
And many candidates have been in the Catch 22 of applying for jobs while still employed when they are fearful of being laid off. Their employer finds their resume on a job site and they are let go for lack of dedication.
Many look to Washington to create jobs. The reality is that government can create a business friendly environment for companies to thrive and hire. Now we are talking and we need to shout it in the communities, streets, and businesses, that there are unemployed people that need us and we need them. Businesses cannot forget that they need American consumers to buy their products and services.
One monumental and creative idea: Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz’s well-publicized call to companies to withhold contributions to political campaigns and support jobs is gaining strength. Spend the money earmarked for political campaigns on employees and hiring issues, he says:
“The only way to break this cycle of fear is to break it. The only way to get the country’s economic circulatory system flowing again is to start pumping lifeblood through it,” he wrote. “That is why we today issue a second pledge. Our companies are going to hire. We are going to accelerate growth, employment, and investment in jobs.”
Stunning idea that he now has over 100 companies and over 21,000 of individuals following suit. There are over 3,000 pledges to hire and it’s growing by the day. Supporters include AOL, J. Crew, Hasbro, PepsiCo, Whole Foods, J.C. Penney.
I am intrigued and I am watching. We can’t forget that we are a nation that is motivated by money. Money talks and money works. There are millions of dollars in political contributions that vanish into thin air. We will be watching to see the promised investment in jobs and people. If the Political Action Committees of Unions would follow suit with a refund of some of the dues money to their members used for political contributions, now we are talking about putting money in peoples’ pockets.
Here is the connection to the unemployed: You refuse to consider unemployed candidates, you won’t get my business and my money. Find out who is refusing to hire the unemployed and make informed decisions about your future purchasing power. Due to the public scrutiny, many are refraining from the bold posting of “You must be currently employed to apply for this position.”, a clear and deliberate violation of the principles of bonafide occupational qualifications: qualifications that make sense considering the required competencies of the position.
People are desperate. Should “unemployed” be a protected class of people? Opinions swing wildly about this topic. In fact, many Americans think this is already a protected class. We have never dealt with this problem before, but we haven’t had a contemporary problem of this magnitude with jobs either. The unemployment rate is holding at 9.1 percent, 14 million Americans with no movement since April, 2011.
Now, it has gotten to such a feverish pitch that there is proposed legislation in Washington, The Fair Employment Act of 2011, that would add unemployment status to the protected class list of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Protected under this proposed legislation are individuals actively looking for unemployment during the most recent 4 week period and currently available for unemployment.
This bill, introduced and being deliberated in the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, is not expected to gain momentum but the mere fact that this bill needed introduction is a stunner. We never would have fathomed that we would need this type of protection.
If this legislation or some facsimile becomes law, how would the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, (EEOC) handle the title wave of new complaints from job candidates who assume they were rejected solely based on the proposed new category of a protected class? Job candidates, could apply for multiple jobs and file appeals based on the lack of consideration. For employers, the cost of litigation would be unmanageable and considerable. The result?; it is likely to be less hiring and more fear of EEOC claims.
Since June 1, it has already been illegal to eliminate unemployed job seekers in New Jersey. There is similar proposed legislation in New York,
An incentive for the unemployed has been introduced as part of President Obama’s new Job Initiative. Proposed is a new $8 billion program that contains incentives similar to the little known HIRE Act of 2010. Under this proposed plan, hiring employers would get up to $4,000 tax credit for hiring unemployed candidates who have been out of work for six or more months. Opponents on both sides of the political coin claim that this incentive does little for the long-term unemployed, and considering the limited success of the HIRE Act, employers likely won’t take heed of the benefits.
There are limited statistics about the success of the HIRE Act for comparison. The HIRE Act was discontinued in early 2011.
Can we make a connection between the qualifications of the currently employed and those unemployed due to economic slowdown? Are we not incumbent to hire the most qualified candidate based on our selection criteria? Nonetheless, employers are leaving themselves vulnerable to prove no connection between irrelevant qualifications and the protected classes. That is the law.
The ethics of this problem are monumental. We already know that it is legal to eliminate a sector of society from consideration as long as they are not a protected class. But we need to ask, “Is a business ethical that eliminates the very group of people who need to be gainfully employed to turn around this desperate economy and buy their products?”
Employers need to think about their reputation in the marketplace. If they will not consider a whole sector of qualified individuals, their market share may diminish. Word travels fast and if potential employees stop purchasing or doing business with their companies, they will suffer economically. Employers are not untouchable. They may become part of that unfortunate mass called the unemployed. It happens every day.
In a heartbeat, any of us can become that unemployed job candidate. President Harry S. Truman said ” It’s a recession when your neighbor loses his job; it’s a depression when you lose your own.” Any one of us can be plunged into that category including the hiring managers who won’t consider the unemployed. We are all in this together Americans.
December 16, 2009
Google News/Associated Press
By Andrew Taylor
In a headlong rush to leave town for the year, the House is trying to clear its plate of legislation to finance the military, help the jobless and permit the government to run up more debt.
Democratic leaders also are touting a new $154 billion measure combining help for state and local governments and the unemployed with nearly $50 billion in spending on highways, housing and school repair as part of a year-end plan to create jobs. That measure was scheduled for a vote along with the other issues Wednesday, though the Senate won’t act this year.
Much of Wednesday’s action would simply punt a host of difficult issues into next year by extending for just two months expiring funding for highway and other infrastructure projects.
An exception is the $626 billion Pentagon budget bill, which has been held back to serve as a locomotive to tug a bunch of unrelated provisions into law as Congress rushes to finish its work in the dwindling days of this year.
Other measures to be included in the defense bill include two-month extensions of federal jobless benefits approved as part of the economic stimulus package in February, health insurance subsidies for the unemployed and several provisions of the anti-terror USA Patriot Act that are set to expire.
The spate of two-month extensions is required because the House and Senate have simply run out of time to iron out Congress’ typical flood of year-end business, as the notoriously balky Senate is tied up with the health care overhaul bill.
“In a world of alternatives, that’s the one we have,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., acknowledging that the need to revisit so many controversial items early next year will be a huge headache for Democrats, who control Congress.
Particularly troublesome is must-pass legislation to make sure the government doesn’t default on its obligations when it hits its $12.1 trillion limit on borrowing in the coming days. A $200 billion-plus extension is required, Hoyer said.
Plans for a far bigger increase in the federal debt limit that would have ensured lawmakers didn’t have to vote on it before next year’s midterm elections fell through.
Democratic leaders had proposed a huge increase of about $1.8 trillion, but ran into trouble from fiscal conservatives in their own party, particularly Senate moderates who wanted to tie the ceiling increase to creation of a task force on deficit reduction.
Hoyer also said the House will approve a stopgap measure to ensure that the Pentagon isn’t deprived of money because of congressional delays in approving the defense bill.
House action on all those bills would conclude its major tasks for the year. It still would have to wait for the Senate, where debate could spill over into Christmas week, depending on Senate action on the health care bill.
A host of tax issues would be ignored entirely, including action to prevent the estate tax from expiring Jan. 1. The tax is set to disappear in 2010 but return in 2011 at a rate of 55 percent for estates over $1 million. Also off the agenda is the extension of about 30 business-related tax breaks that will end Dec. 31.
It’s expected that Congress will have to act retroactively to address these tax issues next year.
Action on the defense bill would close out congressional action on 12 spending bills to fund agency operating budgets for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1.