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Ads' bias against jobless raises concerns

It seems crazy to run a help wanted ad that requires applicants to already be employed somewhere else if they want to stand any chance of getting the job, but this kind of "discrimination" against unemployed people occurs and has sparked outrage around the country.

More than 88,000 people have signed an online petition calling on websites such as Monster.com to ban job postings that make it clear the unemployed need not apply.

Petition organizer Kelly Wiedemer, 45, a former Denver business analyst, was told by a recruiter that she wouldn't be considered for a job because she'd been unemployed so long -- now three years.

"Without saying it, they said my education, my experience didn't mean anything because of my long unemployment," Wiedemer said. "My life as I knew it is over. To be denied an opportunity to rebuild the American Dream is a double whammy."

"They're a big, successful company making a lot of money," said Lew Finfer of the Massachusetts Community Action Network. "They could set a standard. They don't need to countenance that kind of discrimination. It's shameful to let a thing like that continue. We'd like to see them step up and ban it," he said.

The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination is looking into the job listings, said Chairman Julian Tynes. And while it's not illegal -- employment status is not a protected class, Tynes said the ads raise concerns.

"Minority populations have a lower employment rate," Tynes said. "When an employer does that, in effect they are shrinking the pool of viable minority candidates even more."

Matthew Henson, Monster's vice president of public relations, said the firm opposes job discrimination in any form, but he added that only a very small percentage of postings are for positions where the unemployed need not apply.

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