The unemployed need not apply

an unemployed former regional-sales manager in commercial construction, homeless in Sacramento from November 2010 to April 2011; he received assistance from the Volunteers of America Shelter on N. A Street

If you are currently unemployed, or if your résumé shows a period of unemployment, many employers will not even consider your application. You are being discriminated against, and no laws exist to protect you. In fact, it’s legal to run an employment ad that says “unemployed applicants need not apply.”

Assemblyman Michael Allen (D-Santa Rosa) has introduced Assembly Bill 1450, which would prohibit employers from discriminating against the unemployed unless employment is a legitimate qualification for the job. The bill is currently been assigned for consideration by the Assembly’s Labor and Employment Committee.

In 2007, for the first time in my life, I was laid off. The economy was just beginning to tank, so I knew securing new employment might be difficult. But I had no idea how difficult it would be.

When my unemployment benefits were exhausted six months later, I accepted the only work available—a low-wage job similar to those I had outgrown in my early 20s. I was not too discouraged because I knew that my effort, experience and value to my new employer would be recognized and rewarded. And if not, opportunities were sure to become available in my previous line of work.

Since then I have gone from one low-wage position to another. Each period of unemployment became a part of my résumé.

I can understand the employer’s logic, which may sound like this: “If he’s unemployed, there must be a reason.” Or perhaps, “She must have a problem, or another employer would have hired her.” Business does not operate successfully by regularly acting against what must seem like common sense.

But I’m not alone. Last February, I stood in line with more than 2,000 applicants at Raley Field for a chance at a job with the Sacramento River Cats. Nine hours and four interviews later, I had secured a minimum-wage, part-time, temporary position that would not begin for two months, and I was damn grateful.

It only makes sense to support A.B. 1450, and I hope readers will let their assembly members know how they feel about it. I am not asking for special consideration, but I refuse to accept that the millions of us who are unemployed are forever unemployable!