Bill on hiring discrimination passes state Senate

Hartford — Legislation that would prohibit employers from posting job advertisements that expressly discriminate against the unemployed passed the state Senate Tuesday.

Proponents described the bill as a response to various reports about job postings that say unemployed people need not apply.

State Sen. Gary LeBeau, D-East Haven, called such open discrimination in job ads "pernicious, harmful and despicable."

"What this bill does is it provides protection for the unemployed," he said.

However, the legislation only prohibits discrimination against the unemployed in job postings, not during the overall hiring process.

The bill passed the Senate on a 30-5 vote with only Republicans in opposition. It now heads to the House of Representatives.

Sen. Carlo Leone, D-Stamford, said the prolonged economic downturn makes such discrimination especially unfair.

"To take away their dignity, their right to work ... it's disgraceful," he said.

As for penalties and remedies, the state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities would investigate ad complaints and could give employers cease-and-desist orders, require back pay or demand the hiring or reinstatement of employees. If the commission doesn't act on a complaint after 180 days, the person who filed the ad complaint could pursue legal action.

The state's unemployment rate in March was 7.7 percent, lower than the national rate of 8.2 percent.

Republicans tried unsuccessfully to adjust the penalties in the bill. A failed GOP amendment would have had the Department of Labor issue the cease-and-desist orders and fine businesses $250 for each subsequent violation.

Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Fairfield, said the Republican proposal still would have outlawed discriminatory ads yet avoided litigation.

"This is a good substitute that achieves the same goal," he said.

But Sen. Eric Coleman, D-Bloomfield, argued that the Republicans' penalties were inflexible and insufficient.


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