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Readers Split on Unemployment Benefits

Peter Whoriskey has given us a smart story this morning reporting that employers are moving in record numbers to block unemployment payments to fired workers.

This is one of those stories where our Readers Who Comment come down firmly on one side or the other -- there's little middle ground. Either employers are right or fired employees are right. Both views and a number of real-life stories are represented in the comments.

Whoriskey's story also contains an example of what journalists frequently discuss among themselves: when a hardship case or an obvious wrong is publicized, it is almost immediately ameliorated by the offending party or the sympathetic public. In this instance, an employer's representative withdrew an appeal to an unemployment compensation award after a Post reporter turned up at the hearing. Very few cases involving real people get media attention. How do we pick and choose which ones to cover?

We'll start with an exchange that pretty well outlines the discussion:
charlietuna6661 wrote, "it's usually the employee who lies about what really happened. In order for a business person to stay in business, he or she needs to challenge all these liars..."

6thsense79 replied, "Interesting statement Charlie, I actually read the article and came up with this bit of information: "Even as more employers have alleged employee misconduct, their success rate has stayed relatively stable -- they lose on such issues about two-thirds of the time." From that statistic any reasonable man would come to the conclusion that it is ussually the EMPLOYER not EMPLOYEE that is ussually not telling the truth..."

magellan1 noted that "So not only employers, but state agencies are fighting unemployment benefits. Even the states don't want to pay for scofflaws. At least they're looking out for taxpayers a bit. Good for them."

tjhall1 wrote, "Please, no sob stories for the parasitic. We read them all the time for the homeless, the illegals, the prisoners, blah blah."

TalkingHead1 responded, "You must be a bank exec. Either that or just another Bush lover."

And PutDownTheKoolaid said, "This is the sort of dog-eat-dog capitalism that Republican fanatics want to force on the rest of us."

dancewater asked, "Hey, are the fat cats that got us into this horrific financial mess also having trouble collecting their unemployment benefits???? Guess not, since they got bonuses and raises instead of a pink slip."

Westmichigangrandma wrote, "...leave it to big Business to screw the workers of America... Wall Street rallies when business cuts jobs. Who is Wall street for? Not you and I. They are for bottom line at the expense of jobs... We must all rally against big corps and CEO's who make money on thowing away our country jobs."

jvandeswaluw1 said, "Financial rescue packets for Wall Street! Trillions for the banks and nothing for the hard working Americans who lost their jobs? Is this what 'change' is all about?"

bdunn1 wrote, "The company I worked at for nine years before I was laid off in a downsizing put out an annual statement that laid out all our pay and benefits. Listed each year was a line item for the cost to the company of unemployment insurance. Each year it was about $100. That's per year. That's dirt cheap. Shame on these companies..."

Fred2 said, "At one time is was considered dispicable to kick someone when they were down."

magnoliawarbler was "..."let go" on the same day as two other employees. I had worked at this company for 5 years - longer than any other employee... I applied for unemployment... my employer... told an outright and blatant lie about why I was terminated... my benefits were denied and I appealed...I finally gave up because it was clear that the system was going to blindly believe anything the employer said..."

dutchess2 said, "I suspect that lots of employers use hard times as excuses to cover bad management decisions, and would expect to find that same kind of mentality at work to deprive workers of even the barest of sustenance that unemployment is."

skylark1 said, "There need to be guarantees of unemployment benefits after 6 months of continuous full time employment, period. No wiggling out of it by the employer. If a worker has worked 6 months, they can't be such a terrible employee as the liar former employer claims."

sashab1 wrote, "I work in the roofing industry and if a small commercial roofing company gets into trouble they just shut down and start up as another company in six months (at the start of the next season). The State of Maryland can do nothing apparently. The roofers can't get unemployment benefits and the owners are back in business in six months."

dlpetersdc said, "...My agency works with people who have develop a chronic illness. And in the 15 years I have worked for this agency I can count hundreds of cases where our clients were fired on trumped up charges..."

But postfan1 wrote, "If people spent the same effort trying to remain gainfully employed as they do pursuing handouts, the problem would be greatly diminished."

We'll close with ad4hk2004, who said, "...If the worker was laid off by me then he is entitled to the benefits - period... I have never laid off (or fired) a worker, but I have had many of them over the years, quit, just not show up, go get a different job for more money and then get fired from there: And they all came back and tried to claim benefits from ME!... Two sides to every story..."

All comments on this article are here.

By Doug Feaver  |  February 12, 2009; 9:00 AM ET
Categories:  Labor , Unemployment  | Tags: Economy Watch, Labor, Unemployment  
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