MIAMI (CBS4) – At job fairs all over South Florida, candidates are brushing up on their interview skills and learning to network. But that still might not be enough to land a job.
The long-term unemployed are learning a dirty little secret. Many employers don’t want to hire them, because, ironically, they are out of work.
“It’s more of an attitude. You can see, you can feel, just body language, the entire attitude is rather negative,” said Christine Spacone.
No one has come out and said it to Spacone, but she senses it.
“It’s an instinct,” said Spacone.
Some Internet job postings have even come with the caveat that only employed workers should apply.
Recruiting executive Tracy Cashman says some employers worry that “out-of-work people” won’t be up to speed technically. Others believe companies layoff their weakest workers first, which makes the unemployed less attractive.
“The majority of people that we are asked to find by our clients are passive job seekers, people who are employed who aren’t necessarily out there, not posted on any of the boards or sites out there,” said Cashman.
That leaves 14 million unemployed people on the sidelines, unable to get a job because they don’t have one. In what is considered one of the worst job markets every, that might not sound right, but it is legal.
“It would not be unlawful to discriminate against the long-term unemployed,” explained Boston College Law Professor Kent Greenfield.
He said current law doesn’t treat employment status like gender or religion and that some unemployed workers do pay a higher price.
“This tends to hurt people who are older, and it also hurts minorities,” said Greenfield.
President Obama wants to make discrimination against the long-term unemployed illegal in larger companies. It’s part of his jobs bill.
But older unemployed workers such as Lynn Garland worry that a law won’t change much.
“They are going to dance around it just like they dance around the age,” said Garland.
She now dyes her hair and has been looking for a full-time IT job for a year-and-a-half.
“I don’t think it’s right, and point of fact, you re going to get people who want to work and want to do a good job,” said Garland.
She meets weekly with a community counseling group for support. Group leader Lee Carvill has helped four dozen workers get back on track, despite this challenge.
“There is the perception in the marketplace that the longer you are out of work, the further behind you are and therefore why take a chance,” Carvill explained.
In Florida, there are no laws protecting unemployed workers from being discriminated against by help wanted ads aimed openly at currently employed workers.
So far, there are more than 100,000 signatures on a nationwide petition aimed at preventing online job services from discriminating against unemployed workers.