Reductions in force are risky, so plan them carefully. Before you try to explain why you’re letting certain employees go, make sure your reasons make sense.
Recent case: Bonnie Marcus and three other employees over age 40 were terminated during a reduction in force. The employer tried to argue that they were picked because the funding for their positions had been pulled from the budget.
They sued, alleging age discrimination, and soon uncovered the fact that younger employees whose salaries came from the same budget line had been retained. Plus, the company rehired several younger employees, but none of the older ones.
The court ordered a jury trial. (Marcus, et al., v. PQ Corporation, No. 07-2075, ED PA 2009)
- Handle firing with care if employee has complained about alleged corporate wrongdoing
- Foot Locker says no foul, but pays $90,000 anyway
- Take extra anti-harassment steps with young staff
- Employers can't get restraining orders on clients' behalf
- Employee is covered under ADA if you perceive him to be disabled