The Wall Street Journal
FEBRUARY 17, 2011, 6:08 P.M. ET
By MELANIE TROTTMAN
WASHINGTON—The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has begun a probe of whether employers and recruitment firms are unlawfully barring the unemployed from applying for certain jobs, the agency's chairman said.
EEOC Chairman Jacqueline Berrien said at a hearing Wednesday that the agency began hearing anecdotal reports of the practice last summer, including from news reports and from worker-advocacy groups gathering examples of help-wanted advertisements that said only individuals who currently had jobs should apply.
"We'll take a close look at what we heard and consider if there's anything we might need to do to clarify standards," she said.
It isn't clear what the EEOC will do to address the issue, or to what extent it is authorized to act. EEOC and Labor Department officials said they don't have much data on whether the practice of excluding unemployed people from applicant pools is widespread. Lawyers representing employers say it isn't, and even when it is done it can be justified based on employers' need to find workers whose skills are up to date.
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