Voice of the People: Discrimination Against Jobless Is Unjust

By James J. Devine

According to the latest numbers from the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, 14 million Americans are unemployed and looking for jobs. Six million have been out of work for at least six months. Uncounted others have simply given up.

Making the problem worse, some employers refuse to consider the jobless when they are hiring new workers. So if you need a job, you’re already starting with a strike against you.


If you think that sounds like illegal job discrimination, you’re not alone. Sixty percent of Americans agree, yet 45 percent of Republicans have no problem with the practice.

Those who believe that it’s ok for businesses to turn away jobless applicants complain of people “milking the system,” but how are people supposed to get off of unemployment if no one will hire them?

Unemployment is an insurance program we pay for when we collect a salary for work… complaining about people who ‘cash in’ on their policies is a distraction that allows truly greedy people to rob almost everyone.

Twenty-five of the highest-paid CEOs in America took home more pay than their companies paid in corporate income taxes last year, according to a study by the Institute for Policy Studies. General Electric got a $3.2 billion tax refund despite pre-tax earnings of $5.1 billion, according to the report. CEO Jeff Immelt received compensation worth $15.2 million.

When people are caught scamming the unemployment system, they go to jail. When the mega-rich want to avoid paying their fair share of taxes, they lobby lawmakers for loopholes to let them get away with it. Who are the real criminals?

The recent transfer of wealth from Main Street to Wall Street makes all the petty thieves — welfare cheats, unemployment scammers and frivolous lawsuit filers — combined pale in comparison.

It’s true that workers who have been unemployed for a long time may no longer have the latest job skills that an employer is seeking. No one should force an employer to hire a worker who lacks needed qualifications. But eliminating candidates based solely on their current employment status is fundamentally unfair and it should be illegal.

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