Federal Mandates

Obama: Ban Discrimination Against Non-Workers

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Two guys who have yet to feel the recessionary pinch.

President Obama has given verbal support to a bill in the spirit of New Jersey's recent ban on currently-employed-only job advertising. 

In my recent column about high-profile unemployees, I noted the existence of a federal bill to ban discrimination against people who are not currently working. 

"Fair Employment Opportunity Act of 2011" (H. R. 2501), sponsored by hipster Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Connecticut), would punish employers and employment agencies who make hiring decisions based on an applicant's employment status; post want-ads that "indicate an individual's status as unemployed disqualifies the individual for a job"; or give applicants different treatment based on whether they're working. 

The bill [pdf] contains a seemingly wide escape-clause: 

Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, consideration by an employer or employment agency of an individual's status as unemployed shall not be an unlawful employment practice where an individual's employment in a similar or related job for a period of time reasonably proximate to the hiring of such individual is a bona fide occupational qualification reasonably necessary to successful performance of the job that is being filled.

Having done many varieties of grunt work during the too-frequent lulls in my career as a skylarking popinjay, I can't think of any job where the above language does not apply. The more frequently you do something, the better you get at it. That applies even to the absolute minimum work requirement: showing up. The "bona fide occupational qualification" exception in discrimination law is usually an attempt to apply common sense to the quest for difference-blind hiring (a synagogue can insist on hiring only Jewish rabbis, a production may audition only males to play Hamlet, and so on). If some jobs can require that you have a recent work history, which ones can't? 

The bill's prescriptive language around advertising should also concern supporters of free expression and the right to contract, and the micromanagement of hiring decisions is objectionable on general backseat-driving grounds. 

None of these are concerns for President Obama, however. In this excerpt from a Tuesday appearance on the Tom Joyner Morning Show, the president appears to support this legislation: 

SYBIL WILKES: Could you talk—I'm sorry, Mr. President. Could you talk about the long-term unemployment? Because is there going to be something to do with people who are saying that—employers are saying the law—if you're unemployed, we don't want to hear from you.  And these are people that are saying that they're not getting the looks that they need to get from employers regarding possible jobs.

Well, there is no doubt that folks who have been unemployed longer than six months have a tougher time getting back into the job market.  Now, the single most important thing we can do is just have the economy strong so that employers aren't as choosy because they've got to hire because their businesses are expanding.

But we have seen instances in which employers are explicitly saying we don't want to take a look at folks who've been unemployed. Well, that makes absolutely no sense, and I know there's legislation that I'm supportive of that says you cannot discriminate against folks because they've been unemployed, particularly when you've seen so many folks who, through no fault of their own, ended up being laid off because of the difficulty of this recession. 

DeLauro is also the sponsor of the Layoff Prevention Act of 2011 (S. 1333), along with Sen. John Reed (D-Rhode Island), who I think was played by Warren Beatty in an Oscar®-winning film. That bill would create new requirements for "work sharing" programs wherein employers must reduce hours for all employees rather than firing some, and taxpayers would make up the lost wages from the reduced hours. (The bill would still leave employers on the hook for employee benefits.) 

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  1. Stoooooooooooooooopid.

  2. DeLauro is also the sponsor of the Layoff Prevention Act of 2011 (S. 1333), along with Sen. John Reed (D-Rhode Island), who I think was played by Warren Beatty in an Oscar?-winning film. That bill would create new requirements for “work sharing” programs wherein employers must reduce hours for all employees rather than firing some, and taxpayers would make up the lost wages from the reduced hours.

    The taxpayers will be on the hook for the lost wages, which will increase the overall tax burden, which will depress the economy, which will reduce consumer spending, which will reduce business profits, which will reduce the need for employees, which will increase the tax burden….

    The system works!

    1. Holy Shit, it was tongue in cheek that I suggested the law force all employers to hire 10% more workers and pay for them by cutting each existing workers’ hours and wages by 10%. These clowns actually think it may be good policy. They must think that Balph and Cuffy and Wesley and Jim et al are the heroes of “Atlas Shrugged.”

      1. Congress is excellent proof that there are plenty of people out there who think that not only CAN everything in the world be managed by fiat, everything SHOULD be managed by fiat. Don’t like how people are hiring? Order them to do it differently. Don’t like how people are doing layoffs? Order them to do it differently. I am waiting for some legislator to propose the “Tides, Don’t Come In” Act of 2011…

        1. “Tides, Don’t Come In” Act of 2011…”

          Well Obama did promise to lower the sea levels.

          Problem solved!

          1. He gave a speech – that pretty much solves problems in ObamaWorld.

      2. Holy Shit, it was tongue in cheek that I suggested the law force all employers to hire 10% more workers and pay for them by cutting each existing workers’ hours and wages by 10%.

        We just need to reduce the work week to 35 hours.

    2. Figures… a female Democrat would come up with shit like this.

    3. I honest-to-god thought that bill was a joke upon first reading. Really. That sounds so suspicously like some law from a Warsaw Pact nation.

    4. So I’m salaried, like every full-time employee where I work. So let’s say my employer, Comp-U-Mart, needs to cut costs, and the Layoff Prevention Act is now law.

      Comp-U-Mart can’t lay anybody off. But everybody’s salaried, so making small cutbacks in “hours” is meaningless. Comp-U-Mart would have to convert every one of its employees from salaried to part-time hourly.

      Unfortunately, Comp-U-Mart’s plan was to cut staffing on dog-meat projects that either aren’t selling well or aren’t expected to compete that well with existing products in the market. But because they can’t actually get rid of the staff, they have to either keep the dog-meat projects going into perpetuity, or cut the projects and move the staff to active/viable projects. So the viable projects get more people, including people who might not be all that valuable (remember, they’ve been cranking away on dog-meat for however many years) and everybody, including the smart and really valuable engineers behind the profitable projects, takes a pay cut and gets slashed down to part-time status.

      Lo and behold, even though I’ve taken a pay cut and am now merely a part-time hourly employee, I check my pay stub one day and find that the Federal withholding is higher than ever. Why? Because the government wants to pay this amount back to me in “lost wages”. Lost wages that they caused by forcing my employer to cut me to part time. The government now pays to write monthly checks for said “lost wages” to just about every private-sector employee in America.

      Meanwhile, Comp-U-Mart’s stock, which serves as an admittedly modest portion of my portfolio, is in the toilet, where it will stay. Because Comp-U-Mart can’t legally cut their labor costs.

      Wow, this law is awesomeness.

  3. Increasing the hiring cost should fix unemployment right up.

    1. Seriously. I always try to assume incompetence instead of malice, but this administration is doing so much to fuck over the economy in general and small businesses in particular that it is hard to avoid thinking they are doing it intentionally.

      1. why would this NOT be on purpose. Transformative change requires chaos.

  4. More stupidity.

    So, you ban the want-ads. The companies will still discriminate. All this will do is waste the time of applicants that have no chance.

  5. “APORKALYPSE NOW: Texas Allows Hunters to Shoot Feral Hogs from Choppers.”

    I need to move my ass to Texas.

    http://www.thedaily.com/page/2…..hogs-1-10/

    1. Wasn’t that already legal? I thought I knew a guy who went helicopter hog hunting.

      I wonder if the meat is any good.

      1. I heard it’s pretty good. How can it not be? they’re pigs.

        1. I don’t care what they taste like. I have hunted and I have ridden in helecopter. Melding the two sounds lake a total blast!

        2. Aha, RTFA’d and learned that the meat is sold as ‘wild boar’, which I have eaten and enjoyed (and no doubt overpaid for) in many a restaurant.

          1. Really? I find it way too greasy and fatty (often gamey too, if they don’t know how to prepare it).

      2. It was only legal on your own property. Now people can offer helicopter hunting services to other people.

  6. Props for the “Reds” reference.

  7. I realize it’s been said by others, but…

    Dumbest. Administration. Ever.

    1. Better hold on to that thought… we might have an even dumber one after Obama gets done fucking things up in one or two terms…

  8. Sybil Wilkes, whoever he/she is, is an incredibly stupid cuntrag. Proving that the more you say “folks,” the stupider you tend to be.

    1. That’s not Sybil; only the bold text is Sybil. The abuse of the term “folks” is our Fearless Leader. But the rest of your statement holds.

  9. Let’s just mandate full employment.

  10. That bill would create new requirements for “work sharing” programs wherein employers must reduce hours for all employees rather than firing some, and taxpayers would make up the lost wages from the reduced hours.

    Where’s the Equalization of Opportunity Bill, dammit?!

    1. I’m no expert, but I think it’s time to storm the Whitehouse.

  11. Freedom of contract.

    How is that supposed to work?

    It seems some people are in need of a little EDUKAYSHUN.

  12. my career as a skylarking popinjay

    One can have a career in that? I thought it was more of an avocation.

  13. a production may audition only males to play Hamlet,
    Totally irrelevant, but I just saw a superb production of Richard III at Stratford, Ontario, with Seana McKenna as Richard. She was so evil I kept thinking of Heath Ledger.
    You may all now return to your previous snark.

  14. Okay, so businesses shouldn’t be able to discriminate against lazy slobs?

    Gimmie a friggin’ break!

    If that’s the Obama Administration’s solution to unemployment, then he really is starting to run out of stupid ideas.

    1. Unfortunately, if there are no more stupid ideas left, that doesn’t guarantee there aren’t even stupider ideas up his sleeve.

  15. “Fair Employment Opportunity Act of 2011” (H. R. 2501), sponsored by hipster Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Connecticut), would punish employers and employment agencies who make hiring decisions based on an applicant’s employment status; post want-ads that “indicate an individual’s status as unemployed disqualifies the individual for a job”; or give applicants different treatment based on whether they’re working.

    A jobs program! Finally!!!

    For attorneys, of course. But, still… jobz!!!!

  16. Obamanable spaketh:

    But we have seen instances in which employers are explicitly saying we don’t want to take a look at folks who’ve been unemployed. Well, that makes absolutely no sense[…]

    And Obama, being the ultimate HR expert… Surely he can opine on what makes sense when it comes to some total stranger’s hiring decisions. The man is a fucking genius after all, as he wrote his two books himself!

  17. Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, consideration by an employer or employment agency of an individual’s status as unemployed shall not be an unlawful employment practice where an individual’s employment in a similar or related job for a period of time reasonably proximate to the hiring of such individual is a bona fide occupational qualification reasonably necessary to successful performance of the job that is being filled.

    Whoever wrote that sure loves commas, because he ate them all!

  18. Will someone please explain to me why employers are discriminating against the unemployed in the first place? Is this just the workplace equivalent of the women who think a wedding ring makes a man more attractive? Do they think unemployed means “bad worker,” instead of “hungry and motivated employee who might also take a bit less than I was thinking of offering”? The latter seems to me like the better bet, but then I’m not in HR.

    1. It could be to cut down on the number of applications, by weeding out the unemployment bums who have to prove that they are supposedly looking for work by applying to jobs they don’t really want.

      1. Ah, I can see how that sort of makes sense, but it’s still baby + bathwater.

    2. I agree, PSF. A one-page resume is as misleading as only a one-page summary can be. Sometimes people have actually been maintaining skills you will need through freelance work, they’ve just been cowed by the square format of the r?sum? into not including it.

      Nevertheless, I don’t see any compelling public interest here.

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