Employee Layoff Law Attorney
Employee Layoffs May be Necessary at Times. However, Employers Must Follow Laws Regarding Notice, Discrimination, and Retaliation When Conducting a Reduction in Force.
Sometimes, businesses are forced to conduct employee layoffs for one reason or another. These layoffs could result from numerous business concerns, all of which require a reduction in force. However, federal and state employment laws prohibit employers from using discrimination or retaliation to determine which employees get laid off. Additionally, employers are required to provide notice when a mass-layoff occurs.
Any violations of these laws can lead to an employment lawsuit. When your employer violates layoff laws, you need an attorney who can help you get the compensation you deserve. You deserve an attorney who will advocate for your workplace rights under all circumstances.
What Is an Employee Layoff?
An employee layoff is intended to be a temporary solution to a temporary problem. When business slows down, many employers may be unable to sustain their workforce. They may need a reduction in force to help keep their business open. Most employers hope the layoffs are temporary and they can bring employees back to work when business resumes as normal.
Many times, layoffs are a normal part of business. Seasonal employers, such as landscapers and construction crews, conduct layoffs every winter and call back their employees every spring. However, other companies unexpectedly must lay off employees due to an unforeseen business issue.
How Is an Employee Layoff Different from Termination?
A layoff, by definition, means that you may get called back when business resumes. Termination, on the other hand, is a permanent solution to any employment problem. When an employee gets fired from work, they do not expect ever to get a callback. The most significant difference between a layoff and termination is that a layoff is considered the employer’s fault. In contrast, termination is viewed as the fault of the employee or no-fault.
Can an Employer Layoff One Person?
An employer can lay off as many employees as needed. If a department is only one employee, then one employee may get laid off. If the employer needs to conduct a mass layoff of 50 or more employees to help preserve his business, 50 or more employees can get laid off.
As long as your employer has a legitimate business reason for a layoff, no minimum or maximum number of employees can get let go.
How Much Notice Should an Employer Provide Before a Layoff?
Under federal law, the WARN Act requires employers with 100 or more employees to provide at least 60 days’ notice to employees of mass layoffs. Under the WARN Act, you must receive notice if you have a reduction in force (RIF) affecting the following:
- At least 50 full-time employees
- 500 or more full-time workers at one location within 30 days
- 50-499 full-time workers or 33% of the employer’s total full-time workforce at one location
How Much Notice Should an Employer Provide Employees of a Reduction in Force Under State Laws?
State Warn Acts vary between states. Some states, like New York, require employers with 50 or more employees to provide 90 days’ notice when laying off 25 or more employees.
Under New Jersey’s current law, employers with 100 or more full-time employees must provide at least 60 days’ notice to employees when 50 or more employees will be laid off from work in a 30-day period. Furthermore, New Jersey considers all business facility locations under the umbrella of one employer.
California’s WARN Act requires employers with 75 or more full or part-time employees with 50 or more layoffs receive 60 days’ notice before a layoff.
What Happens If a Company Only Laid Off Everyone Over 55?
Most states offer at-will employment. Therefore, an employee can be fired from work for almost any reason. The same is true for layoffs. Employers may lay off employees for nearly any purpose. However, the law says employers cannot target employees because they are over a certain age.
Your employer cannot target any protected employees for a layoff. The following categories are considered protected classes (people are protected from discrimination under the law):
Can an Employer Layoff a Person Who Complained About Harassment?
An employer may not lay you off simply because you complained about workplace harassment. This act is known as retaliation. It is prohibited under federal and state laws.
The law is clear that employees must be free to complain about reasonable suspicion of workplace harassment. Even if the actions were not harassment under the law, the employee cannot receive any backlash in exchange for the complaint.
Can an Employer Layoff a Temporarily Disabled Employee?
Your employer can lay off any employees for business reasons, such as loss of work or being purchased by another company. This layoff can include those employees out of work on temporary disability.
However, under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA), you cannot be targeted for a layoff because you are out of work due to a temporary disability. If you can show you were targeted, you may have a claim for workplace discrimination.
You should be able to show that one of the following events occurred:
- You are the only person laid off in your department.
- You are the only person included in the layoffs within the entire company.
- Your employer only laid off people who were out of work due to temporary disabilities or using FMLA leave.
- The majority, but not all, employees laid off from work were using temporary disability when laid off.
If you think you were targeted for a layoff because you were out of work on a temporary disability, contact a dedicated employment lawyer to learn more about your rights under the law.
Can an Employer Layoff a Pregnant Employee?
An employee can get laid off from work for almost any reason. However, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) prohibits employers from laying off pregnant employees simply because they are pregnant.
Many employers will attempt to layoff pregnant employees during temporary layoffs, if possible. Some may believe they are doing these employees a favor. However, it is a violation of the law.
An employee may volunteer to be included in a layoff. However, an employer may not target pregnant employees during a layoff.
Does an Employer Have to Provide a Severance Package to Laid Off Employees?
Employers are not required by any law to provide a severance package to laid-off employees. However, an employer must pay the remainder of wages through the last day of employment and any remaining sick time and vacation days.
As a sign of good faith, many employers will offer a severance package to employees during a reduction in force. Typically, companies will outline the terms of the package in the policy and procedures manual. Your union may also lay out conditions if you are represented by one.
Never sign a severance agreement without an attorney review. Severance packages may offer you additional money to help you after being laid off from a position. However, they also protect your employer from any lawsuits relating to harassment, wrongful termination, retaliation, or other employment discrimination. Contact a qualified employment attorney to review your severance agreement.
Can an Employee Sue an Employer Over Layoffs?
Typically, layoffs are legal. However, if you feel you were laid off as an act of retaliation or discrimination, you may have grounds to sue your employer. As long as you do not sign away your rights in a severance agreement, you can file a claim against your employer for wrongful termination, retaliation, or discrimination. Typically, these claims are filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission within 180 to 300 days of the layoff. They may also get filed under state laws. The time limit to file varies depending on your state.
You may also sue your employer if you were not given proper notice under the federal or state WARN Act statutes. You may file a lawsuit in federal or state court as a result of such violations. The time limit to file your claim will vary whether you file under federal laws or state laws.
Contact an employment lawyer to file your claim for violations of layoff laws within the proper time frames allowed by law.
What Are Some Examples of Illegal Employee Layoffs?
Employee layoff violations can take many forms. Some examples of illegal employee layoff may include some of the following scenarios:
- Your company has been in talks to sell the company for over a year. They know the new company will close several warehouses and layoff over 200 employees at each location. Your company only provides two weeks’ notice to employees of the pending closings and layoffs.
- Your company has noticed a significant drop in business as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. They need to conduct layoffs to help control costs. They layoff all pregnant employees (6 employees), providing them enough savings to continue business as usual.
- Your employer sees a sharp decline in business. People are just not buying widgets the way they used to. He decides to layoff employees to help save money and hopefully get business back to normal. He offers all employees over 60 an option to voluntarily leave in exchange for a hefty severance package.
- Your employer wants to discourage people from taking FMLA. He decides to conduct a layoff and combine some departments to save money. He layoffs fifteen employees. Ten of those employees are out on FMLA leave. No other employees out on FMLA leave are left at the company.
What Is the Average Settlement for Layoff Law Violations?
If your employer violated discrimination laws during their layoff, the courts may offer you compensation, such as lost wages, reimbursement of benefit premiums, and money for pain and suffering and emotional distress. The courts may also offer physical relief, such as the reinstatement of employment and changes to company layoff policies and procedures.
What Is the Average Settlement for a WARN Act Violation?
If your employer violates the WARN Act (federal or state), you may receive specified compensation. The federal law requires employers to pay for each day of notice your employer denied you, up to 60 days. For instance, if your employer only gave you one day’s notice of a mass layoff, you would receive 59 days of back pay.
Each state offers different financial remedies for state WARN Act violations. Consult with a qualified WARN Act attorney to determine the compensation you are entitled to receive.
How Can an Employment Lawyer Help You with Your Layoff Claim?
Layoffs are complicated. Your employment has the right to conduct a reduction in force. However, he must follow employment laws in the process. Your employer cannot discriminate against you. He must provide you notice. He cannot retaliate against you as payback for taking legal leave or speaking up against illegal and unethical employment actions. Furthermore, your employer may attempt to protect themselves from litigation by offering you a severance agreement.
Contact Our Employment Lawyers for Your Layoff Claim Today!
Layoffs can be a normal course of business. Sometimes they are temporary. Other times, they are permanent, as the business is closing or never truly gets back on its feet. However, layoffs cannot violate employment laws. If your employer laid you off as an act of retaliation or discrimination or violated notice laws, the employment lawyers at the Derek Smith Law Group can help.
Did Your Employer Conduct Layoffs Without Notice? Did Your Employer Target You for a Layoff Due to a Disability, Age, Pregnancy, or Other Protected Class Status? Please Call Us at 800.807.2209 or Email Us at [email protected] to Learn More About Your Rights.
An experienced employment lawyer can ensure your rights get met in the process and help you stand up for your rights when your employer breaks the law. They can also review your severance package to ensure you are not giving up any of your employee rights.
Your attorney can advocate for your rights from the moment you walk into their office. They can work with you through the completion of your case. Whether your case settles in the early moments of the process or goes through the entire litigation process until the courts enter a judgment, your lawyer can help you negotiate the entire process towards the best outcome for your claim.