The problem may not be widespread, but a number of employers out there won't hire someone if that person is currently out of a job. This type of discrimination would become illegal with new legislation in Trenton.

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Asw. Celeste Riley (D-Salem) noted the fragile economy has led to the layoffs of many skilled workers, but as they look for solid employment, they're not getting a fair shot because of an unnecessary stigma.

"It's a terrible cycle," Riley said. "We need, as a state, to remind our employers that there are people out there that have really great skills, that might have been laid off or are unemployed, and they need a job."

Riley's bill would prohibit employers from basing their hiring or salary decisions based on the fact that an applicant is, or has been, unemployed. It would supplement an already-existing law which bans employers from specifying in their job ads that unemployed applicants will not be considered.

Under the measure, violators face a fine of up to $1,000 for a first offense, $5,000 for a second violation and $10,000 for any subsequent violations.