Layoffs are unfortunately a fact of life in the employment world. When businesses experience financial downturns that require cutting costs, downsizing is a common practice. Moreover, most states adhere to the “at-will” employment doctrine that allows employers to terminate employees for virtually any reason or no reason at all. Layoffs are essentially a form of termination. However, if the layoffs were not handled fairly, you could be a victim of Wrongful Termination due to illegal layoffs.
A Wrongful Termination Lawyer from The Crone Law Firm discusses illegal layoffs and what you can do if you suspect you were wrongfully terminated through a company layoff.
Layoffs and Wrongful Termination
Company layoffs can be temporary or permanent and occur for numerous reasons. Temporary layoffs can happen during seasonal downturns or while a company renovates part of its operations and installs new equipment. Affected employees may be laid off until sales increase or the renovations are completed.
Permanent layoffs are due to more concrete changes in the company’s structure or finances. Some examples can include:
- Elimination of an entire product line
- Closing a company location
- Reducing the size of a department
- Downsizing the workforce for budgetary restrictions
- Losing a significant client’s business
- Replacing employees with technology
Wrongful termination occurs when an employee is unlawfully terminated in violation of their legal rights. Layoffs can be used to wrongfully terminate employees that are otherwise protected under certain laws. Here are some possible examples:
- Several women at a company complain about teasing and sexually-motivated harassment. In the next round of layoffs, the company includes all these women to keep from addressing their sexual harassment complaints. They are informed the layoff is just necessary company downsizing. This is a form of wrongful termination disguised as a layoff.
- Managers are instructed to single out specific categories of people in the next round of layoffs, such as women, people with disabilities, or employees over 60.
- Layoff criteria can sometimes be discriminatory without malicious intent. An example could be company managers asked to select employees for retention by those who seem more innovative and willing to learn new things. This could eliminate disproportionate numbers of older workers due to age-related stereotypes. Therefore, this could be wrongful termination because the layoff criteria screened out members of a protected group.
Many scenarios are possible and proving wrongful termination in such cases can be difficult. A Wrongful Termination Lawyer from The Crone Law Firm can explain your legal rights and offer advice on your next steps.
Legal Protections Against Wrongful Termination
State and federal laws protect employees from wrongful termination. These laws prohibit such actions due to:
- Sex (this includes gender identity, transgender status, and sexual orientation)
- National origin
- Age (40 and older)
You are also protected by state and federal laws if you report harassment or discrimination, report unsafe working conditions or labor code infractions, report law violations, participate in an official investigation of your company, or refuse to participate in illegal activity.
In addition, the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) “protects workers, their families, and communities by requiring most employers with 100 or more employees to provide notification 60 calendar days in advance of plant closings and mass layoffs.”
Many states have similar provisions. If you were laid off without proper notification under the law and your employer is not excepted, you could be entitled to back pay.
Get Help from a Wrongful Termination Lawyer For Illegal Layoffs
Proving wrongful termination through a company layoff can be difficult. Sufficient evidence may be hard to come by, as employers may destroy records or conduct conversations privately. However, if you suspect that you have been wrongfully terminated in a recent layoff, you should consult with a Wrongful Termination Lawyer. The Crone Law Firm focuses exclusively on employment law matters like wrongful termination across Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kansas, and the Southeast. We represent employees who encounter workplace disputes that violate the law or their rights. We know employment law and can explain your rights and options in a confidential consultation.