Discrimination against the unemployed is having a terrible effect on our society. Unemployment rates are at sustained highs, and it is well-settled that the longer an individual remains unemployed, the more likely the individual is to never re-enter the work force. With African Americans having an extremely disproportionate rate of unemployment compared to that of the general population, discrimination against the unemployed is having a devastating effect on the African American community. It is clear that employment discrimination is still a major issue in our country today. The standards the courts apply for plaintiffs and employers are extremely complicated. An attempt to apply these standards to a claim as ambiguous as discrimination based on unemployment status would be a disaster. Also, even the classes that have historically received protection based on the authority of Title VII have great difficulty prevailing in court. A private cause of action will not be able to solve the problem for the black community or the general population. Emphasis for solving this problem should be on harsher penalties for employers that expressly discriminate against the unemployed in job ads, more job training programs, more employer tax incentives for hiring the unemployed, and programming specifically tailored to the needs of African Americans.
Whether or not these suggested measures are considered, at the very minimum it is important that the problem of unemployment discrimination be addressed. It must be addressed not only as it pertains to the community in general, but it must also be addressed based on the disproportionate effect it has on the black community. The African American community has a special interest in finding a viable solution. It is more than just jobs on the line; it is the future of the black community that is in jeopardy.
. J.D. Candidate, Howard University School of Law, Class of 2013.