Ask Dr. Job’s chief contributor, Sandra Pesmen, is a member of the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame and author of “DR. JOB’s Complete Career Guide.”

Winner of several journalism awards, Pesmen is a graduate of the University of Illinois Media College at Urbana, and is listed in several Who’s Who editions. She also has been Corporate Features Editor of Crain Communications Inc., founding Features Editor of Crain’s Chicago Business and a reporter/features writer for The Chicago Daily News.

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Circumvent Age Job Discrimination

Employers seem to be discovering more reasons to not hire older workers.  In fact, The National Employment Law Project, uncovered the startling employment trend: companies are now basing their hiring practices on how long potential workers have been unemployed, immediately dismissing those who have been out of work for an extended period of time.
Once they become unemployed, it takes older workers far longer than younger workers to find a new job, creating an age discriminatory policy that is quickly gaining popularity despite its illegality.
As of June, jobless people who were 55 and older had been out of work for almost 56 weeks, compared with 38 weeks for all age groups, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In a review of help-wanted online postings between March 9 and April 5, 2011, NELP found 150 ads screening applicants based on current employment status.
To date, declining to hire unemployed people is illegal only in the District of Columbia. In Washington and many state capitals, sympathetic legislators are trying to outlaw this kind of discrimination.
In Congress, at least three pending bills would ban job ads that rule out unemployed applicants.
Other states in which legislators are considering similar measures include Arizona, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New York, Ohio, South Dakota, Washington and Wisconsin.
 But there are a few things older workers can do to fight this trend when searching for work:
* Apply for the job anyway, stating your qualifications
* If you've been screened out, document actions the employer took that appear to discriminate against you because you are unemployed
* File a complaint with the employment website that posted the ad
* Consider filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or your state's employment discrimination agency
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