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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. The underlying practice of hiring only the currently employed would also be against the law.

Among the states, New Jersey was the first to enact a law. In June last year, the state began banning these kinds of ads (but not the hiring practice itself). The District of Columbia has enacted legislation that bars both the ads and the hiring practice. And Oregon has a new law outlawing the discriminatory ads.

A New Jersey company is facing a $1,000 fine for advertising only for employed applicants for a position of service manager, according to Assemblyman Peter J. Barnes, sponsor of the law that went into force last year.

Other states in which legislators are considering similar measures include Arizona, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New York, Ohio, South Dakota, Washington and Wisconsin.

Diane Cadrain is a Connecticut-based attorney and freelance journalist who writes about employment issues.

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