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Petition Drive Targets a 'Monster' of a Problem

August 29, 2011

PORTLAND, Ore. - Someone looking for a job might find a promising-looking position posted online - only to scroll down and read the fine print, to the effect that unemployed people, or certain other people, won't even be considered. Some of those ads are on the job-placement website Monster.com, which is now the target of a petition drive by a Colorado woman who says it's discrimination against the unemployed.

It's also a growing topic of conversation at get-togethers like Portland's Career Resources Network, where people in transition meet to share advice. The group's chairman, Doug Goodrum, says he's seen ads that go so far as to specify which types of experience a company doesn't want to see from applicants.

"I've seen it two or three times now, come to think of it, this commentary about: 'Past loan officers, real estate agents, insurance agents, need not apply.' And yet, it's a basic sales job that they're posting for. That's the one that really irks me, because I came out of home loans."

Goodrum says his years in sales have helped him cope with rejection, but these types of ads don't make it any easier.

"I guess, at first glance, you can't help but feel slammed. You can't help but get depressed for a moment there, over that one thing. And then, you just have to pick yourself up by your bootstraps and go, 'Well, it's just another challenge that I'll just beat through somehow.'"

Kelly Wiedemer's petition already has almost 90,000 signatures. She says that, whether a company intends it or not, these ads have the effect of assuming job-seekers aren't doing anything to help themselves, and negating what they have accomplished over a lifetime.

"Without saying so, they said that my education, my experience and my background had no value whatsoever."

Wiedemer says she hopes to collect 200,000 signatures in her drive to get sites like Monster and Career Builder to stop taking ads that she says discriminate against people without jobs.

At this point, Monster has not banned the practice. A spokesman for the site says, "Discrimination based on employment status falls into a legal gray area," adding that it is "unwise."

Only one state, New Jersey, already has a law against job ads that prohibit jobless workers from applying.

The petition drive is at tinyurl.com/3k3x7yr.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR