Layoff Legal Disputes

Where You Need a Lawyer:

(This may not be the same place you live)

At No Cost! 

 What Is a Layoff?

A layoff is the firing of employees from their usual line of work. This may frequently be temporary, as when a business is restructuring or downsizing. Layoffs generally arise due to a lack of work or business. Layoffs can sometimes involve entire groups of employees, like when a business removes an entire section of a production line.

Occasionally, layoffs are temporary, meaning that the worker may return to work with the business after the allotted time. However, they can also be permanent to save money or close a location.

Other terms used for layoffs are:

  • Downsizing;
  • Workforce Reduction;
  • Simplification;
  • Reduction in Force;
  • Redeployment;
  • Excess Reduction;
  • Delayering;
  • Smartsizing;
  • Etc.

Layoffs are a common practice for businesses. However, they need to ensure that the layoffs do not violate the employee’s legal rights and do not become a wrongful termination. Layoff issues can make up a significant portion of state and local employment laws.

Was the Layoff Illegal?

An employment lawyer will review the details of your layoff to determine if it was illegal. For example, suppose many of the employees selected for a layoff all belong to the same legally protected group (such as people over 40), and you are in the protected group as well. In that circumstance, the employer may have targeted you for an illegal reason (age discrimination, in this instance).

Even if the general layoff was lawful, you might have been illegally included in the layoff group. For instance, maybe your position was not initially selected for layoff. Still, your supervisor put your name on the layoff list after you complained of sexual harassment or hazardous working conditions. A lawyer will ask you questions about your work history, execution, and more to determine whether your employer included you in the layoff to conceal an illegal termination.

An attorney will also ask you questions to determine whether the employer fulfilled its responsibilities for even a legal layoff. For instance, an employer must reimburse you a final paycheck with all of the wages you have made within the time mandated by state statute. And, if the layoff was part of a plant closure or a mass layoff, the employer must give workers 60-days’ notice of layoff.

What Are Your Legal Options?

An attorney can lay out all of the legal and other alternatives available to you. For instance, a lawyer can identify resources, such as:

  • State or local agencies where you have to file complaints to maintain legal rights
  • A state labor department where you can pursue unpaid wages or overtime, or
  • The state unemployment department so you can file for benefits.

A lawyer will also tell you what assistance they can offer. This may include helping you with filings at the agencies mentioned above, sending a letter to your employer seeking severance pay or settlement of claims, or filing a lawsuit.

Good Advice From a Lawyer Can Help You Move On

A lawyer may tell you that your only choice is to file for unemployment and move on. Remember that sound advice is not always welcome advice: The attorney’s appointment is to tell you honestly what your legal choices are.

One of the main services an employment lawyer provides to you after you’ve lost your job is to listen and give you an objective, professional evaluation of your potential case. The attorney may not tell you what you want to hear (“you have a home-run claim!”), but you should leave the meeting pleased that you have investigated your legal opportunities rather than just tolerating your fate. The attorney’s guidance and counsel will give you the knowledge you need to make educated conclusions about your future.

What Is the Cost-Benefit Analysis?

One of the primary things you need to do before deciding how to move forward in a layoff dispute is to weigh the costs of taking legal action against the potential advantage of doing so. Suppose your lawyer tells you that your layoff selection violated the law somehow (for example, because the employer laid off all of the employees over 40).

In that case, your attorney will also tell you what you could recover in monetary damages by suing your employer or attempting to settle your claims before litigation.

What Are Workforce Reductions?

Layoffs are often caused by workforce reductions. Workforce reductions are when a company seeks to reduce the number of workers working for them, generally to reduce overall expenses. Layoffs also occur due to closing a factory/place of business and not because of loss of profits but a new, bigger factory.

Under requirements of workforce reduction, the worker may still have rights to employment under their work contract or employment contract. Workforce reductions can take long periods, as employees go in or out of the company.

What Are Some Common Layoff Legal Disputes?

Legal quarrels over layoffs can be expected. Disputes are prevalent when the layoff happens suddenly, or in a manner that clashes with the employee’s current employment contract. Some common legal disputes associated with layoffs may include:

  • Debates over company property;
  • Disputes over employment benefits;
  • Due wages;
  • Terminations involving discrimination or harassment;
  • Fraudulent or deceptive layoff; and
  • Wrongful termination.

What if I Have a Legal Dispute Over Layoff Issues?

Legal quarrels over layoffs generally need the intervention of a government agency or employment board. Any problem over the layoff occurring due to the employee’s race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, and/or genetic information will be submitted to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Once you file with such an agency, they will investigate the issues. They may be able to specify a legal remedy, such as a damages award or reinstatement to your previous position.

If the agency cannot cure the problem, you may need to file a lawsuit. In any circumstance, be sure to keep any records, documents, and statements that might be connected to your claim- you’ll be needing these for court records and evidence.

Can I Get Advice on How to File a Wrongful Termination Suit Through the EEOC?

Before filing a workplace lawsuit, you must first file a complaint with the EEOC. To file a Federal EEOC complaint, you must follow these steps:

  1. You must contact the EEOC counselor 45 days from the incident;
  2. Evaluate Your Eligibility: the federal deadline for filing a claim is 180 days from the time the charge occurred;
  3. Complete the online assessment tool to determine whether EEOC has jurisdiction to take your claim;
  4. Finish the EEOC intake questionnaire;
  5. File the EEOC complaint either in person or by mail;
  6. Answer any supplemental questions asked by EEOC after charges are filed;
  7. Once you file your complaint, the EEOC agency will do an investigation into your claim;
  8. If the agency was not able to resolve your dispute, you might be able to file a lawsuit by obtaining a Notice of Right to Sue from the EEOC; and
  9. You can file a lawsuit in court 60 days after filing your EEOC charge, but no later than 90 days after the EEOC investigation was concluded.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With Layoff Legal Disputes?

You may need to hire a wrongful termination attorney for help if you believe you were laid off in an illegal manner or in violation of a contract. Your lawyer will advise you of your rights under the law and represent you if you need to attend court hearings.

Law Library Disclaimer


16 people have successfully posted their cases

Find a Lawyer