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Bill to prevent discrimination against the unemployed wins House approval

June 10, 2013

AUGUSTA – A bill to protect Maine’s unemployed workers from discrimination in the hiring process won initial approval in the House on Monday.

Rep. Diane Russell, D-Portland, sponsored the bill to prevent further harm to workers who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. It would make it illegal for employers, staffing agencies and online job posting services to post announcements that discriminate against unemployed Mainers. It would make it illegal to refuse to consider or hire the unemployed.

The House voted in favor of the legislation 85-56.

“The best program we can provide people with is a good job,” said Russell. “This bill would help eliminate the barriers and uphill battles workers face in trying to re-enter the workforce after being laid off, ensuring they have a fair chance at a new job.”

The legislation prohibits employers from refusing to consider applicants simply because they are unemployed and from advertising that unemployed applicants will not be considered. They are also prohibited from directing an employment agency to consider employment status when screening or referring applicants.

According the Bureau of Labor of Statistics, 4.4 million Americans are experiencing long-term unemployment. Those out of work for 27 weeks or more account for 37.3 percent of the United States’ unemployed population. In Maine, the unemployment rate is 7.1% and the long-term unemployment rate is 2.7%.

Rep. Erin Herbig, D-Belfast, House chair of the Committee on Labor, Commerce and Economic Development, spoke on the House floor about the legislation.

“If we truly want Mainers to get back to work, we should act like it,” said Herbig.

The legislation awaits further action in the House and Senate.

Contact:

Ann Kim [Russell, Herbig], 287-1485, cell: 233-1838