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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission



Pre-Employment Inquiries and Unemployed Status

"Unemployed status" includes current or past periods of unemployment.  Federal law does not prevent employers from asking about unemployed status, but the federal EEO laws do prohibit using this information to discriminate.  If an employer does reject job applicants based on unemployed status, it must do so consistently, without regard to race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, age, and genetic information.  

Employers also must not screen out job applicants based on unemployed status if it does not help the employer to accurately identify responsible and reliable employees and if, at the same time, it significantly disadvantages people of a particular race, color, national origin, religion, or sex.   

In addition, an employer may have to make exceptions to a policy of rejecting applicants based on unemployed status for applicants whose unemployed status was caused by a disability.  

Depending on the state you live in, there also may be state laws governing employers' consideration of unemployed status.