MIAMI (CBS4) – We’ve all heard that it is easier to get a job when you already have a job.
Millions of unemployed men and women looking for work not only believe it that’s true, they also believe they’re being discriminated against in their job searches because they are not working.
For nearly 20 years Michael Westerholm rose through the ranks at postage equipment giant Pitney Bowes to director of business development. In January, however, his position was eliminated and his search for a new job began. After sending out dozens of resumes and going on half a dozen interviews, Westerholm said he’s feeling restless.
“It kind of grates on you a little bit. You kind of think about it, you know, ‘What’s my next step? Should I call them again? I called them six times. I don’t want to be a pest’.”
Westerholm is just one of 14 million Americans currently out of work. He’s also about to become of one of more than six million Americans who’ve been looking for a job for more than six months. The half year mark is a tipping point for getting hired, according to the National Employment Law Project.
“There’s an assumption that gets built up around being unemployed, by employers or employment agencies really not wanting to take a chance on the unemployed,” said the organization’s director Christine Owens.
In a recent report, the group found that are less likely, and some cases unwilling, to hire those out of work for six months or more.
“I think that companies feel with job growth as limited as it has been that the biases or the sort of convenience factor make it unlikely that employers will step up and say ‘Oh we were wrong’ and change their minds,” said Owen.
The issue has even hit Capitol Hill where legislation has been introduced that would make this practice illegal.
“This is un-American, it’s unfair and it should not be legal in America to do that,” said U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson.
Westerholm said he believes that employers who immediately dismiss unemployed candidates are missing out.
“I think that there’s a lot of good talent out there and for somebody to pass somebody over just because they’re in that position is short-sighted,” said Westerholm.