Businesses sometimes need to make staff cuts. Layoffs happen for all kinds of reasons that often have nothing to do with the individual employee or their job performance. However, sometimes layoffs are a way for employers to get rid of specific workers. Layoffs can be used as a means of purging people who the company finds objectionable, sometimes based on unlawful biases. Such motivations can be difficult to prove, but there are laws to protect employees from wrongful termination as long as the person who has been let go is aware of their rights and pursues the issue according to protections offered by law.
What Is At-Will Employment?
The term at-will employment refers to the circumstances that allow an employer to terminate a worker’s employment for any reason, or for no reason at all. On the other hand, this term also allows employees to leave their job without any reason.
According to the rules of at-will employment, an employer will not face legal consequences for changing the employment relationship. In addition to termination, this includes changing the terms of compensation, benefits, or paid time off among other possible employment matters.
The one main exception to this rule is that employers are prevented by law from laying off an employee for reasons that are discriminatory.
What Kinds of Discriminatory Motives Are Illegal?
It is illegal under federal law to make employment decisions on the basis of sex, age, religion, race, national origin, disability, and other protected class designations. Employers are barred from considering these factors when making decisions about whether to hire or terminate an employee as well as when making other decisions such as scheduling, compensation, and other employment assessments.
An employer may not terminate a worker in retaliation for filing a Workers’ Compensation claim or for acting as a whistle blower to disclose company misbehavior or ethics violations. A worker cannot be terminated for taking time off to care for a sick loved one under the terms of the Family Medical Leave Act, which allows up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for eligible employees.
What Are My Rights if I Am Part of a Mass Layoff?
If your job was eliminated as part of a large company layoff, your chances of proving that your termination was decided for discriminatory reasons are greatly reduced. However, if you can prove that your employer let go a disproportionate number of people from a protected group, you may have a case.
When it comes to mass layoffs, employers must afford employees certain rights that are specific to large layoffs and factory closures. Under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, employers must provide 60 days written notice of planned layoffs. Some states require more notice.
South Jersey Employment Lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC, Help Workers Understand Their Rights
If you were laid off from your job, you have certain rights that protect you from discriminatory treatment, but at-will employment rules and other employment laws make it difficult to prove any mistreatment or bias in the decision. If you believe that your employment was ended for unlawful reasons, you should speak to the South Jersey employment lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC. We can help you understand the laws that protect you and support your fight to benefit from those worker protections. Call us today at 856-235-7075 or contact us online for a free consultation. With office locations in Mount Laurel and Atlantic City, New Jersey, we proudly serve clients from Cherry Hill, Burlington County, Camden County, and throughout South Jersey.