WASHINGTON – In a public meeting held Feb. 16, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) examined the impact of employers considering only those currently employed for job vacancies.

According to Helen Norton, Associate Professor at the University of Colorado School of Law, employers and staffing agencies have publicly advertised jobs in fields ranging from electronic engineers to restaurant and grocery managers to mortgage underwriters with the explicit restriction that only currently employed candidates will be considered.

The use of employment status to screen job applicants could seriously impact people with disabilities, according to Joyce Bender, an expert in the employment of people with disabilities. “Given my experience, I can say without a doubt that the practice of excluding persons who are currently unemployed from applicant pools is real and can have a negative impact on persons with disabilities,” Bender told the Commission.

This restriction would also disproportionately affect a number of other groups, other officials testified. They cited certain racial and ethnic community members, and women, particularly older women and those in non-traditional occupations.

“At a moment when we all should be doing whatever we can to open up job opportunities to the unemployed, it is profoundly disturbing that the trend of deliberately excluding the jobless from work opportunities is on the rise,” said Christine Owens, Executive Director of the National Employment Law Project.

Materials from the Commission meeting, including statements and biographies of witnesses, may be found at http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/meetings/2-16-11/index.cfm.

Source: EEOC.