WASHINGTON, Feb. 17 (UPI) -- The head of the National Employment Law Project said it was "profoundly disturbing" to find U.S. employers discriminating against unemployed job applicants.
"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," Executive Director Christine Owens said.
It is unclear how many employers are excluding the jobless from job openings, but there is anecdotal evidence that it is on the rise, McClatchy Newspapers reported Thursday.
Companies could be screening out jobless applicants on their own, without listing that in an ad displayed in public. Some job postings have surfaced, meanwhile, that spell out the criteria by stating, "applicant must have a job," the newspaper chain said.
Some ads list a time limit, calling for applicants who have not been unemployed for three months or six months.
At a public hearing at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Washington, the assistant secretary for policy at the Labor Department, William Spriggs, said discriminating against unemployed workers could, in effect, be a way to discriminate against minority groups.
"When employers exclude the unemployed from the applicant pool, they are likely to be excluding Latinos and African-Americans," he said.
Online employment listing service Monster.com spokesman Mathew Henson said it was against company policy to list a job with the caveat that the applicant have a job.