BI’s Article search uses Boolean search capabilities. If you are not familiar with these principles, here are some quick tips.

To search specifically for more than one word, put the search term in quotation marks. For example, “workers compensation”. This will limit your search to that combination of words.

To search for a combination of terms, use quotations and the & symbol. For example, “hurricane” & “loss”.

Login Register Subscribe

Focus on employment status could create liability issues


Employers with policies against hiring the unemployed would be wise to reconsider them in light of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's interest in the area, many observers say.

The advice comes in the wake of an EEOC hearing this month in which the commission explored whether employers are hiring only the employed, and if this has a disparate impact on protected groups.

Laura Sack, a shareholder with law firm Vedder Price P.C. in New York, said employers that do not have these policies “don't need to do anything” other than document their decisionmaking process with respect to hiring applicants.

Employers that have such a policy “would be well-advised to reconsider such a practice,” Ms. Sack said.

“The smartest thing to do if a business wants to be totally risk-averse is don't take employment status into consideration” when hiring or don't make it a qualifying factor in job decisions, said Jonathan T. Hyman, a partner with law firm Kohrman Jackson & Krantz P.L.L. in Cleveland.

Companies that have a policy against hiring the unemployed should document their employment decisions “with the understanding the EEOC is taking a look at this issue,” Mr. Hyman said.

While “it's appropriate for employers to scrutinize job history,” employers should make sure they are “not making assumptions about people simply because they are unemployed,” said Paul C. Evans, a partner with law firm Morgan Lewis & Bockius L.L.P. in Philadelphia.

Michael W. Fox, a shareholder with law firm Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart P.C. in Austin, Texas, said the recent meeting reflects the EEOC's increased focus on systemic issues.

“You also have to step back” and look at the overall policies and the systems that are in place “and raise questions for yourself,” Mr. Fox said. “Is there something about this policy or this system that someone from the outside could look at and say, "That's unfair to this particular protected class'?”