If We’re to Have Labor Laws, Should They Work Both Ways?

found online by Raymond

From Libertarian Michael A. LaFerrara:

We have all kinds of labor laws allegedly for the purpose of “protecting workers.” And these laws are growing like a cancer, hampering job creation and maintenance as they do. For example, the New Jersey Star-Ledger lauded a state Supreme Court ruling that upheld a man’s lawsuit against his employer for firing him because he was divorced, effectively making it illegal for “a worker [to] be fired or discriminated against because they are separated from or divorcing their spouse.”

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3 thoughts on “If We’re to Have Labor Laws, Should They Work Both Ways?”

  1. My mouth rests agape at the ludicrousness of Mr. LaFerrara’s hypothetical counter example. Also his referencing the Equal Protection Clause as if it had any bearing what-so-ever on a private employer firing an individual for non-work-related reasons was pretty fun roller coaster to ride on.

    This was the kicker for me:
    “On the face of it, this looks like the nanny state running wild. And it is. In the future, some future boss who fears personal conflicts caused by love triangles among his workforce will have to concoct some rationalization for the firing rather than be upfront about it.”

    It’s as if he’s completely tone-deaf. Yes. Of course the employer should probably come up with a rationalization for firing a person. Their perceived notions on a ‘messy divorce’ is not an adequate reason to release someone. The NJ Supreme Court is literally saying that the employer needed to come up with a better rationalization. Perhaps proving work performance was being hindered? Or efficiency had declined?

  2. Apparently it’s not bad enough that the US already has the weakest worker-protection laws in the developed world, the lowest unionization rate, etc., and that the Republicans are continuing to erode what meager protections remain. As long as employees have any legal protections at all against arbitrary firing and abuse, it’s a problem.

    As usual, the house is on fire and the libertarians complain about the mess created by the fire department spraying water on it.

  3. His point about the unfairness of having anti-discrimination rules for employers but not for employees is worth addressing. It *is* inconsistent as a rule, which also bothers me.

    We present scenarios where women/atheists/black people can’t find work because their local employers are bigots, claiming that the potential for harm there is greater than the harm of restricting an employer’s freedom to associate only with whom he pleases. But someone like LaFerrara could counter: what if an employer in a racist town takes a chance by hiring a black man and the employees quit rather than work for him? This hurts the employer and the man he hired just as much. In fact, if employers in the area know that this will happen, they have a disincentive to hire black people in the first place–and all because it’s OK for employees to quit for whatever reason. For an even simpler scenario, just consider a black man in the same community who wants to start his own business and needs employees. Why is the potential for harm in this manner not treated as sufficient reason to have anti-discrimination laws that protect employers too?

    Libertarians often prioritize principle over practicality, but I find that this also makes them rather attentive to inconsistency.

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