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Colorado Lawmakers Won't Pass Unemployment Discrimination Law

It's no secret that the recession has been hard on Colorado businesses. Many have had to lay off workers, and even more have had to delay hiring until the economy improves. As a result, many Colorado workers have found it hard to find jobs.

Throughout the country, state governments have been looking for creative ways to help get unemployed people back to work. In Colorado, some lawmakers proposed a new business law that would ban employers from advertising jobs as being open only to people who are currently employed. Earlier this week, a House committee killed that bill, effectively stopping the initiative from progressing any further.

The bill's opponents saw the effort as unneeded intrusion into the affairs of local business owners, especially considering how rare so-called "unemployment discrimination" actually is.

Lawmakers worried that the bill could make Colorado a less-attractive destination for potential employers looking at starting or growing a business in the state. They reasoned that a poor business climate may ultimately be far more destructive for unemployed workers than the small number of employers who prefer to hire already-working candidates.

Further, the bill may not have had any actual impact on the issue - although it prohibited employers from advertising jobs as not being open to unemployed applicants, it did not prohibit employers from using an applicant's employment status as a factor in the hiring decision.

Finally, lawmakers said they were reluctant to interfere with the affairs of private businesses.

If passed, the legislation could have created a new protected class under Colorado employment law and may have led to costly employment litigation. For now, employers will be spared from this added burden.

Source: Denver Business Journal, "House Panel Kills Unemployment Discrimination Bill," Ed Sealover, Feb. 22, 2012.

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