Should they? No. Can they? According to New Jersey law governing the topic – or, more accurately, lack thereof a law pertaining to this topic – employers can make hiring decisions without guidance from the government. (The exception, of course, is discrimination against race, color, religious affiliation, etc.)
Therefore, the answer about whether employers “can” hold unemployment against an applicant is murky. The real issue is: if they do discriminate in this fashion, who will really know? How can it be proven?
Pundits say this is the reason why Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a bill on Aug. 15 that would have made it illegal in New Jersey to hold someone’s unemployment status against them when they applied for a job. They say that even if the bill, which was passed by both the NJ Senate and Legislature earlier this year, had become law, Gov. Christie has said he thinks it is impractical to believe that any employer could be held accountable for such actions. Who, he said, is going to pay for those likely lengthy, in-depth investigations?
Further, he reasoned that employers in New Jersey are already prohibited from placing “want ads” that include any verbiage about current employment being a prerequisite.
Even as the economy is steadily improving and there are more jobs to be filled, it’s hardly unlikely to find a qualified candidate who has been pounding the pavement for a very long time. People who were laid off during the Recession, or college graduates who still haven’t found their way onto even the lowest rung of the career ladder, could be wielding resumes outlining years of unemployment.
Employment law is complicated business. If you or someone you know is facing a legal problem with your employer, whether discrimination or something else, speak to the experienced, compassionate lawyers at Posternock Apell, PC. We have helped countless NJ & PA residents solve work-related disputes.