Have a general question about employment law? Want to share a story? I welcome all comments and questions. I can't give legal advice here about specific situations but will be glad to discuss general issues and try to point you in the right direction. If you need legal advice, contact an employment lawyer in your state. Remember, anything you post here will be seen publicly, and I will comment publicly on it. It will not be confidential. Govern yourself accordingly. If you want to communicate with me confidentially as Donna Ballman, Florida lawyer rather than as Donna Ballman, blogger, my firm's website is here.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Debate Questions for Paul Ryan From an Employment Lawyer

This is part of our series on what questions employment law practitioners would ask of the candidates in the debates. Today, I propose some questions I'd ask Paul Ryan.

During your acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, you talked about an automobile plant in your district. You said this, " Right there at that plant, candidate Obama said: 'I believe that if our government is there to support you … this plant will be here for another hundred years.' That’s what he said in 2008.Well, as it turned out, that plant didn’t last another year. It is locked up and empty to this day. And that’s how it is in so many towns today, where the recovery that was promised is nowhere in sight." The truth is that the plant announced it was closing and actually closed while George Bush was still President. Why on Earth would you try to put the blame for that plant's closing on President Obama, and why should we believe anything else you say if you're willing to mislead us on something so easily proven to be incorrect?

OK, maybe that question won't be asked in the debate. But seriously, that was egregious. Lawyers know the jury instruction that says if a witness lies about one thing, you don't have to believe anything they say. I think he should have to answer for such a blatantly misleading statement.

How about asking this one:

You initially voted against extending unemployment benefits in 2010, saying it would add to the deficit. Then you voted for extending unemployment benefits when they were coupled with an extension of the Bush tax cuts. Is it only bad to help the unemployed when you're not simultaneously helping the very rich?

I know. I'll never be asked to moderate one of the debates with an attitude like that.

Your family's company relies a lot on union labor. In 2009, in stump speech in your district, you said, “A lot of conservatives just think unions are nothing but bad. That's just not true.... They're people who are just trying to make their lives better, people trying to collectively negotiate a better standard of living for themselves. What the heck is wrong with that?" You've been a supporter of pro-labor bills like the Davis-Bacon Act, which keeps federally funded construction projects from undercutting prevailing union wages. On the other hand, you supported Governor Scott Walker in his fight against Wisconsin's public sector unions and supported cuts to education funding that caused teacher layoffs. If you are elected Vice President, will you support labor unions or will you work with people like Governor Walker to destroy unions?

 At this point, they're probably escorting me forcibly out the auditorium door. Before I leave, I manage to yell out this one:

You voted for the failed 2007 attempt to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, sometimes called ENDA, to protect employees against discrimination based on sexual orientation. Do you still think it should be illegal to discriminate against gays and lesbians?
It's a question that puts him in a no-win situation. His party opposes any legislation expanding gay rights. His support of ENDA was the right thing to do, but it won't win him friends in his party. If he says he's changed his mind, he loses any goodwill he built up with the gay community with his vote.

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I appreciate your comments and general questions but this isn't the place to ask confidential legal questions. If you need an employee-side employment lawyer, try http://exchange.nela.org/findalawyer to locate one in your state.