New Jersey Passes Law Prohibiting Exclusion of Unemployed Individuals for Job Vacancies

  • May 11, 2011

A new New Jersey law prohibits employers in the state from publishing job advertisements, in print or on the Internet, that exclude unemployed individuals from applying.  This makes New Jersey the first state to enact an explicit prohibition against such limiting language.  The legislation, effective June 1, 2011, provides a penalty for employers that “knowingly and purposefully” publish advertisements excluding unemployed individuals from consideration for a position. 

The law subjects an employer to a $1,000 fine for the first violation, $5,000 for the second, and $10,000 for each subsequent violation.  Importantly, and unlike most laws addressing disparate treatment, the law excludes any private cause of action by an aggrieved individual.

The legislation appears to reflect an expressed concern regarding the prevalence of hiring efforts that may exclude the unemployed, particularly at a time when the nation has been facing a difficult economy over the past years.  Earlier this year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission examined the treatment of unemployed job seekers.  Witnesses and experts suggested a growing trend of discrimination against the jobless.  The panelists raised concerns over the disparate impact facially neutral advertisements could have on African Americans, Hispanics and older workers – all of whom are federally protected groups whose jobless rates are well above the United States average.  Accordingly, the EEOC is concerned that advertisements excluding the unemployed will result in harsher treatment of African Americans and Hispanics, of which 15.7% and 11.9%, respectively, are currently unemployed.  This issue bears watching in the months ahead.

Jackson Lewis attorneys are available to assist employers in handling discrimination matters and related litigation.

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