The Richmond Register

November 17, 2012

The case of the unemployed politician

You be the judge

By Jack Strauss
Special to the Register

RICHMOND — George decided to try the most promising of all careers - politics. He quit his job and ran for political office. After winning the election however, he found himself with an unanticipated problem. He wasn’t to take office for three months and, during the interim, he had no income. Consequently, he applied to get his old job back. His erstwhile employer, however, wasn’t one of his loyal constituents and turned him down colder than a Siberian nudist.

Undismayed, George applied for unemployment benefits.

“Sorry!” he was told, “but a person can’t collect unemployment benefits unless he’s available to go to work. Since you’re going to take over your political job in three months, you’re not available.”

“I’m as available as my maiden aunt,” insisted George. “What happens in three months is irrelevant. I’m available right now and that’s what counts. Consequently, I’m entitled to collect unemployment benefits.”

IF YOU WERE THE JUDGE,  would you grant unemployment benefits to unemployed George?

This is how the judge ruled: NO! The judge held that George was not available for work since he would have to leave his job to take over his political office. What’s more, noted the judge, he was further disqualified from receiving benefits for the additional reason that he left his employment without good cause. Running for political office, the judge ruled, is not “good cause” for leaving a job.

(Based upon a 1965 Alabama Supreme Court Decision.)

Jack Strauss, a retired New York City trial attorney who now resides in Berea, wrote a syndicated column for 36 years called, “What’s the Law?” It appeared in papers coast to coast, including the Pittsburgh Press, the Los Angeles Examiner, the Hartford Times, the Kansas City Star and the Philadelphia Daily News, among many others. It appears here with his permission.