Discriminating Against The Unemployed


Suppose I’m a hiring manager.  And I’m interviewing for an open position.  Can I legitimately use the fact that one of the candidates showed up for the interview in his pajamas as a reason not to consider him for employment?

How about if one of the candidates pulls out a cigarette and lights up.  How about that?  Can I use that fact to disqualify a candidate?

So, if I can discriminate against jammy wearing smokers, why can’t I discriminate against people who won’t go and get a job?

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11 comments
  1. I’m confused – if someone is trying to get hired by you, aren’t they by definition trying to go and get a job?

  2. Megasnap said:

    I believe he is trying to make the point that there are jobs to be had. So if that smoking, pajama wearing astrophysicist got laid off a year ago and didn’t take a job at the local gas station in the meantime, he hasn’t accepted work and therefore doesn’t deserve the position pino is looking to fill.

    • There are a lot of people unemployed who can’t find jobs too — if it were pure choice the unemployment rate wouldn’t go down to 4% during a boom and up to 9% (actual rate higher) in a recession. It’s tough out there, some people have been searching for months, even over a year! In some places structural unemployment is very high.

  3. dedc79 said:

    There’s no law i’m aware of preventing anyone from discriminating against the unemployed. I think there are jobs out there to be filled that don’t pay a living wage and someone shouldn’t be faulted for not wanting to work day in day out to still not be able to afford food, rent, medicine, when they are holding out for a better job that fits their qualitifications.

  4. pino said:

    if someone is trying to get hired by you, aren’t they by definition trying to go and get a job?

    I may look for qualities in a candidate. And perhaps, just maybe, accepting $315 a week on unemployment for 80 weeks as opposed to working a job, any job, speaks to their qualifications.

    he hasn’t accepted work and therefore doesn’t deserve the position pino is looking to fill.

    Bingo.

    I think there are jobs out there to be filled that don’t pay a living wage and someone shouldn’t be faulted for not wanting to work day in day out to still not be able to afford food, rent, medicine, when they are holding out for a better job that fits their qualitifications.

    I agree that there are jobs out there that are not highly paid jobs. However, the candidate has decided that he is willing to take a “non-living wage” in the form of an unemployment check and not through his labor.

    That might speak to his qualifications.

    Anecdotal: I moved to Seattle 15-20 years ago. I needed a job and I was a bartender. I got a job downtown in Pioneer Square; prime location. I secured that job by offering to work the first two weeks for free.

    I was hired on the spot. And they paid me for those two weeks to boot 😉

  5. Beyond the very weak argument of a long unemployment stretch possibly showing lack of resourcefulness, the discrimination is simply a case of HR trying to justify their job for the most part. It’s not whether they have a gap that’s important, it’s why that gap is there.

    • pino said:

      Beyond the very weak argument of a long unemployment stretch possibly showing lack of resourcefulness, the discrimination is simply a case of HR trying to justify their job for the most part. It’s not whether they have a gap that’s important, it’s why that gap is there.

      I’m not sure I understand. What do ya mean?

      • Just saying that an employment gap is mostly just an excuse by HR to discriminate.

      • pino said:

        Just saying that an employment gap is mostly just an excuse by HR to discriminate.

        So, I’m faced with two candidates. One has resisted the temptation to get a job for 80 weeks while taking $335.00 a week. The other worked straight 40 at $8.50 and made $340.00 before taxes and fees.

        Which one displays a better work ethic?

        And yes, the role of a hiring manager is to discriminate. He is trying to find all different kinda ways to discriminate to find the best candidate.

        He may discriminate on GPA.
        On major
        On years of experience
        On interview
        On people who wear jammies to an interview
        On checking their watch
        On saying, “Ummmm…” to much.
        On not shaving.
        On wearing a suit or an “Occupy” tea-shirt

        The job of the hiring manager is flat out to discriminate. And long term unemployment speaks to gumption. In short, the best way to demonstrate that you wanna work is to go, you know, work.

  6. “And yes, the role of a hiring manager is to discriminate. He is trying to find all different kinda ways to discriminate to find the best candidate.”
    Not disagreeing, just saying that often it’s more a question of what someone did during the resume gap than the gap itself. I know some HR managers who automatically take a resume gap as a negative and exclude candidates from being short-listed based simply on the gap alone.

  7. Here is an interesting study: http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2011/12/15/390426/study-unemployment-insurance-work-harder/

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