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No Home Address on Résumé: Is That a Legal Concern?

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in HR Soapbox

Rhode Island claimed the honor last year of passing the nation’s most unique employment-related law. The state’s Homeless Bill of Rights made job bias against homeless people unlawful. The law says a person experiencing homelessness:

"Has the right not to face discrimination while seeking or maintaining employment due to his or her lack of permanent mailing address, or his or her mailing address being that of a shelter or social service provider"

So is this law coming to a state near you?

As we’ve seen with many discrimination bills—such as unemployment discrimination—these ideas can quickly hop from state to state. A similar homeless-discrimination bill has already been introduced in the California legislature.

An increasing number of job applicants are actually leaving their addresses off their résumés ... and it has nothing to do with homelessness. More are dropping the address for other reasons, including:

1. Fear of disqualification based on location. Some ­employers admit they prefer local candidates because they worry that em­­ployees with long commutes will have attendance problems or will burn out sooner. Or they fear that the hiring company won't want to have to deal with relocation costs for out-of-state hires. Keep in mind that the applicant may be willing to relocate on his/her own dime, or they could thrive despite long commutes.

2. Fear of bias based on location. Applicants may fear that stereotypes about low-income or predominantly minority neighborhoods could hurt their chances of being called.

3. Identity theft/privacy concerns. Some may be trying to limit the amount of personal information they give out.

The bottom line: Don't automatically rule out résumés that list no address or cite a P.O. box. The person may have perfectly legit reasons for doing so.

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