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New York Daily News


Should It Be Illegal To Discriminate Against The Jobless?

October 02, 2011

By Ben Boychuk

Workers have rights, but also employers have needs - a skilled workforce, for one.

Nobody is going to argue this isn’t an especially tough economy for people who have been out of work for six months, a year, or longer.

But passing legislation to ban “unemployment discrimination” is an excellent way to discourage skittish employers from hiring.

If Obama gets his way, a would-be hire suddenly will be a potential lawsuit, with liabilities running into the tens of thousands or even millions of dollars. In this economic climate, with mushy consumer demand and a tidal wave of regulations looming in the form of Obamacare, no sane employer - especially a small business - would take on the additional risk.

Instead, they’ll hunker down, lower their expectations, make due with the employees they have. Or they’ll find clever ways to skirt the law.

Unfortunately for the long-term unemployed, the law of unintended consequences cannot be repealed by a mere act of Congress. (Of course, every policy has unintended consequences - some are more pernicious than others.) Discrimination based on race or sex is illegal because it’s unreasonable and wrong. Most of the time, one’s race or sex has nothing to do with one’s ability to do a job.

Unemployment discrimination, while frustrating, isn’t necessarily unreasonable. What possible reason could employers have for looking askance at the long-term unemployed? Skills often atrophy when a person is out of work. Workers are less likely to be up-to-date on industry standards.

Businesses may sometimes act stupidly, but they usually behave rationally. Given a choice between a candidate currently working in a certain field, and one who has been out of the game for a while and in need of recertification or extra training, which candidate would you pick? On the other hand, if an employer sees a candidate with clearly superior skills who has been out of work for a while, he would be a fool not to hire that person.

No federal law required - it’s just good business sense. Something this administration sorely lacks.

Original Source:



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