SB 1548, the “Fair Employment Opportunity Act,” receives bipartisan support
SALEM – The Senate approved legislation this morning that would make Oregon second in the nation to pass a bill prohibiting discrimination against unemployed Oregonians in job announcements. With Oregon’s long term unemployment rate stubbornly high, Senate Bill 1548 makes sure that applicants can’t be prohibited from applying for a job opening solely because they do not currently have a job.
“The passage of SB 1548 bans the practice of telling unemployed Oregonians they cannot apply for jobs that they desperately need,” said Senator Diane Rosenbaum (D-Portland), chief sponsor of the bill. “At a time when the competition for jobs is extraordinarily intense, there are examples of some businesses and recruitment firms telling would-be job seekers that they can’t get a job unless they already have a job. This bill will help level the playing field and allow hard-working Oregonians to compete based on their skills and experience.”
SB 1548 would prohibit an employer from including language in an advertisement for a job announcement indicating that someone who is currently unemployed should not apply or will not be considered for the position. The bill does nothing to prevent an employers’ right to check a job applicant’s qualifications including educational and work experience, professional and occupational licenses, certificates, registrations, permits and other credentials.
“It’s crazy to say that you have to have work, to look for work,” said Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem/Woodburn/Gervais), also a chief sponsor of the bill. “If you had work, you wouldn’t need work, so you wouldn’t have to look for work. We’re just trying to make it clear that people who don’t have work can look for work.”
Legislation similar to SB1548 has been introduced in at least four other states and was signed into law in New Jersey in 2010. On the federal level, a comparable proposal was included in President Obama’s American Jobs Act of 2011. SB 1548 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.