Good Luck Feeding Your Family Here

Cleveland Foodbank discriminates against unemployed workerIn a starving economy, when non-profits claiming to serve the community become the “we” that can’t hire you because you don’t have a job, it’s enough to cause the innards to churn the bitterest bile.  Recently, the Cleveland Foodbank posted an employment ad for a Customer Service Representative that would make you sick to your stomach:

Five or more years customer service experience in an office setting required. Direct customer interaction required. High school diploma or general education degree (GED) required. Unencumbered driver’s license and personal vehicle is needed. Must be willing and able to travel (mostly local) for the organization. Bilingual language ability with English and Spanish preferred but not mandatory. Must possess strong attention to detail. Must be proficient in Windows based computer software including Excel, with an emphasis on spreadsheets and word processing. Database experience a plus. Only applicants with steady work history need apply. Annual salary targeted for mid 20’s with full benefits package on hire.

“Only applicants with steady work history need apply”?  What is it with employers and OPP (other people’s property)?  They never want you unless you belong to someone else.  Non-profit aside, the Cleveland Foodbank certainly “requires” a lot of you for a handful of Kibbles ‘n Bits in return.  This is required.  That is required.  All for a “salary” targeted (though not promised) for the mid 20’s?  Even the tone of the ad bites.

Anyone can understand an employer belly-aching over bad fruit, i.e. the jobseeker whose skills are non-existent or the jobseeker whose done a stint in jail for battery or murder or even theft.  But being unemployed too long in an anorexic economy (that keeps throwing up every measure taken to feed it) should not render a potential hire unemployable or as disposable as a used styrofoam cupNobody’s skills ever get so rusty or atrophied that they draw up like an empty stomach or a withered arm; skills have a way of coming back to life, strengthening, upon re-entry into the job force.  Besides the average Joe Hunting Down A Job these days is not Joe Surgeon or Joe IT Developer out of work for five or more staggering years!

Neal Conan, host of National Public Radio (NPR) said in an on-air radio discussion, “Employers will hire applicants who are currently working at the same job at another company.  [But] if you’re a professional who has taken a low-level job or a job unrelated to your career to make ends meet, employers will not hire you.  I have also heard that employers and HR departments won’t consider an application if the person doesn’t live close-by, won’t relocate, or even if they are seen driving to a job interview in a car that needs washing.”

So employers and HR won’t hire the unemployed for harvesting in the wrong cornfield.  And to the spoiling of the unemployed soul, they may also be spying on the upkeep of your hoopty!?

According to Marc Lifsher in his Los Angeles Times article, a bill was introduced just last week in California by Assemblyman Michael Allen (D-Santa Rosa) proposing legislation that would fine employers or employment agencies that refuse to consider out-of-work applicants for openings.  In other words, the bill would prohibit discrimination against the unemployed in hiring practices.  Assemblyman Allen said in a statement released by his office,“To say that otherwise qualified individuals cannot even apply for a position solely because they are unemployed, particularly in light of the fact that so many of our unemployed workers have been out of work for extended periods of time, is truly unconscionable.”

Fed up Gov. Chris Christie (huh, a Republican?) inked a bill last March that prohibits advertising of a job that “knowingly or purposely” states that “qualifications for a job include current employment.”  New Jersey, thus far, is the only state to approve such anti-discrimination legislation.

The Cleveland Foodbank proudly proclaims that its mission is to alleviate hunger by providing food and support to community organizations that feed the hungry.  Another way to alleviate hunger is to provide a job to a qualified worker ravenous for a job.  And perhaps there will be one less family relying on a Harvest for Hunger campaign (or the otherwise noble services of a hypocrite foodbank preferring another’s food come from a handout than by the sweat of their own brow).

Given the sluggish economy jobseekers have been forced to swallow over these frustratingly lean years, every American, unless you own the business you work for, should be outraged by this perverse catch-22.  Today, it’s the other guy.  Tomorrow, the hunger pangs could be yours.  Fortunately, similar bills, like those proposed in New Jersey and California, are pending in Congress and in other states to force foolish American employers to change their nauseating ways.

Do you think it’s stupid to require a person to have a job to apply for a job?

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