Do Los Angeles Employers Discriminate Against Homeless Jobseekers?

A recent article in the Los Angeles Times discusses the issue of hiring discrimination against the homeless. According to the article, private businesses are reluctant to hire people who list homeless shelters as addresses. People without addresses are also frequently blacklisted.

A survey of 2,339 homeless people living across the country confirms this problem. In fact, 70.4 percent of survey participants reported hiring discrimination by employers. According to the article, employers may be reluctant to hire homeless applicants because they associate homelessness with drug abuse or mental illness.

Hiring discrimination against the homeless in Los Angeles is especially problematic. In an interview with the Times, an employment specialist with Union Rescue Mission in Los Angeles claims employers have outright refused to hire residents at the shelter, despite being qualified.

People become stuck in a cycle of homelessness from which they cannot escape, all because the application process asks for an address.

Are There Ways to Stop Hiring Discrimination Against the Homeless?

Rhode Island, Connecticut and Illinois have laws in place to protect the homeless from hiring discrimination. California has attempted to pass legislation helping the homeless find jobs.

There might be more subtle ways to protect the homeless from job discrimination. Some people argue that employers should not ask for an address during the initial application process. Asking for an address may encourage discrimination. People with criminal records face a similar barrier, in that they are forced to check a box stating a past history of misdemeanors and felonies. Research shows 60 to 75 percent of these people cannot find work for up to one year after being released from prison or jail. However, companies like Target and Walmart have “banned the box” and no longer ask about criminal history.

Could the same methods be applied in this situation? What would happen if businesses stopped asking for addresses during the application process? Do you believe discrimination against those living in homeless shelters or on the streets would disappear?

The Los Angeles labor law attorneys at Kesluk, Silverstein, Jacob & Morrison, P.C. can help workers who have faced workplace disability discrimination.

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