A layoff is the discharge of employees from their usual line of work. This may often be temporary, as when a company is restructuring or downsizing. Layoffs typically occur due to a lack of work or a lack of business. Layoffs can sometimes involve entire groups of workers, like when a company removes an entire section of a production line.
Sometimes, layoffs are temporary, meaning that the employee may return to work with the company after the allotted time. However, they can also be permanent either to save money or to close a location. Other terms used for layoffs are:
- Workforce Reduction;
- Reduction in Force;
- Excess Reduction;
Layoffs are a common practice for businesses; however, they need to ensure that the layoffs occur in a way that doesn’t 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.
Layoffs are often caused by workforce reductions. Workforce reductions are when a company is seeking to lessen the number of employees working for them typically to reduce overall expenses. However, layoffs also occur due to closing a factory/place of business and not because of loss of profits but due to a new and bigger factory.
Under conditions of workforce reduction, the employee may still have rights to employment under their work contract or employment contract. So workforce reductions can take long periods of time, as employees are going in or out of the company
Legal disputes over layoffs can be common. Disputes are especially common when the lay off occurs in a way that is sudden or in a way that is in conflict with the employee’s current employment contract. Some common legal disputes associated with layoffs may include:
- Disputes over company property;
- Conflicts over employment benefits;
- Unpaid wages;
- Terminations involving discrimination or harassment;
- Fraudulent or deceptive layoff; and
- Wrongful termination.
Legal disputes over layoffs typically need the intervention of a government agency or employment board. Like any issue 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 conduct an investigation into the matters. They may be able to prescribe a legal remedy, such as a damages award, or a reinstatement to your previous position.
If the agency is unable to remedy the situation, you may need to file a lawsuit. In any event, be sure to keep and records, documents, and statements that might be related to your claim- you’ll be needing these for court records and evidence.
Before you file a workplace lawsuit, you must first file a complaint with the EEOC. To file a Federal EEOC complaint, you must follow these steps:
- You must contact the EEOC counselor 45 days from the incident;
- Evaluate Your Eligibility: the federal deadline for filing a claim is 180 days from the time the charge occurred;
- Complete online assessment tool to determine whether EEOC has jurisdiction to take your claim;
- Complete the EEOC intake questionnaire;
- File the EEOC complaint either in person or by mail;
- Answer any supplemental questions asked by EEOC after charges filed;
- Once you file your complaint, the EEOC agency will do an investigation into your claim;
- If the agency was not able to resolve your dispute you may be able to file a lawsuit by obtaining a Notice of Right to Sue from the EEOC; and
- You can file a lawsuit in court 60 days after you filed your EEOC charge, but no later than 90 days after EEOC investigation was concluded.
You may need to hire an employment attorney for help if you believe that you were laid off in a manner that was illegal or in violation of a contract. Your lawyer will be able to advise you of your rights under the law, and can represent you if you need to attend court hearings.