Riley & DeAngelo Bill to Ban Discrimination Against Unemployed Job Seekers Moves Forward
An Assembly panel on Thursday passed legislation introduced by Assembly Democrats Celeste M. Riley and Wayne P. DeAngelo that would prohibit employers from basing hiring decisions on an applicant's employment status. The bill (A-2910) would authorize the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development to collect civil penalties from violators of its provisions. "As so many New Jersey residents struggle to get back on their feet, they come upon a frustrating cycle of not being able to find a job, because they don't have a job," said Riley (D-Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem). "By giving all New Jerseyans - regardless of employment status - an equal opportunity in the job market, we can put our residents back to work and rebuild our economy." "Qualified, capable men and women throughout our state want nothing more than an opportunity to put their skills to use so that they can support their families," said DeAngelo (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "New Jersey's workforce is its most important resource in moving our state forward, but we must first eliminate barriers that may unfairly keep these workers on the sidelines and out of work for longer periods of time." The bill would not prohibit employers from inquiring about the circumstances surrounding an applicant's unemployment, giving priority to certain applicants based on experience level or the possession of certain credentials or limiting candidacy for a job to those already working for the employer. Violation of the bill's provisions would result in civil penalties of up to $1,000 for the first violation, $5,000 for the second violation and $10,000 for each violation thereafter. The bill was released by the Assembly Labor Committee. At 6.9 percent, New Jersey's unemployment rate remains above the national average, according to the most recent data from the Department of Labor and Workforce Development.