"He has a right to make a living," he said in a telephone interview Wednesday.
Sharpton said he hadn't softened his views about Imus, who was dismissed from his syndicated program (simulcast on MSNBC) in April for calling the Rutgers University women's basketball team "nappy-headed hos."
But he added that, under the right conditions, the radio star's banishment could eventually end.
Sharpton said he hoped that any broadcast outlet that hired Imus would take steps to ensure that he wouldn't return to a brand of humor that included race- and gender-based insults.
"We had never asked him to never work again," he said, echoing comments he first made to Radar magazine.
Imus' attorney, Martin Garbus, wasn't answering questions about his client's future Wednesday.