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Blumenthal Statement On White House Initiative To Help Long-Term Unemployed

(Hartford, CT) –Today, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) issued the following statement in response to a White House initiative focused on helping the long-term unemployed. The initiative is designed to persuade major corporations to revamp their hiring processes in such a way that prevents them from discriminating against those who have been out of work for long stretches of time. As part of the initiative, President Obama signed an executive memorandum requiring federal agencies to similarly revamp their hiring processes, and directed $150 million in U.S. Department of Labor funds  to organizations that help workers get needed job skills.

 “Discrimination in the work place is abhorrent and unacceptable – and should be banned. Facing the toughest job market in recent history, American workers deserve to be judged on their qualifications, not denied opportunity solely because they are currently unemployed or other extraneous factors. I applaud the President for working directly with the private sector to ensure that all workers – regardless of whether they are unemployed – are given a fair chance at work. The best practices the President has announced today would go a long way toward fighting the unwelcoming and sometimes explicitly discriminatory hiring practices that keep the long-term unemployed shut out of the labor market. But Congress must do more by moving forward with a federal prohibition against these unfair and economically harmful practices. In addition, the new Department of Labor grants could help organizations like The Workplace and Asnuntuck Community College continue to do the great work they do to ensure job-seekers in Connecticut have the tools they need to transition back into the workforce.”

 Earlier this week, Blumenthal re-introduced The Fair Employment Opportunity Act of 2014 (S.1972), which would prohibit hiring discrimination against the unemployed, either directly or through third-party recruiters. With the national unemployment rate currently hovering just under seven percent, approximately four million Americans have been out of work more than six months. But companies across the country continue to require current employment to be considered for available positions, and these discriminatory practices are eliminating employment opportunities for those who need them most. The Fair Employment Opportunity Act would prevent employers and employment agencies from refusing to consider or offer employment to someone who is unemployed, or including language in any job advertisements or postings that states unemployed individuals are not qualified.