Monday, February 2, 2009

Layoffs = Lawsuits

Talk about your "new recession economy":

First layoffs, then lawsuits.

More workers are being let go as corporate layoffs that began in earnest last year have accelerated in recent weeks. And more often, people are looking around and complaining that they have been unfairly or improperly dismissed.

Though there are no statistics on total employment cases, lawyers say the number of suits is rising fast. But lawyers also say that winning an employment case is not easy.

Employees of several companies are trying to bring class-action suits — which will require a judge’s approval. Terminated employees of the furniture retailer Ethan Allen filed an age discrimination lawsuit against the company in October. Former employees of Dell, the computer maker, filed an age and sex discrimination suit against the company that same month. A veteran terminated by Lockheed Martin sued in November, claiming among other things that the company discriminated against veterans.

Individual claims, as opposed to class actions, are rising too, lawyers say. So are lawsuits on behalf of employees claiming they never received overtime pay.
Of course, the knee-jerk reaction is to "blame the lawyers," but with the exception of a few insolvent corporations, most of these companies who claim they don't have the money to keep workers will spare no expense in fending off these reductions in force (RIF) claims nonetheless.

And social science shows these RIF's tends to target certain groups (older workers, women, and women with younger children) for discriminatory layoffs more than others.
Reductions in force, or RIFs, that affect people who are caregivers may violate one of several federal laws, including a prohibition on sex discrimination. “There is robust social science evidence that there is serious workplace discrimination against mothers and that in the context of this economic downturn it appears that mothers are encountering lots of what they see as ‘mommy RIFs,’ ” said Joan C. Williams, a professor at the University of California Hastings College of the Law and director of the Center for WorkLife Law. Ms. Williams added that calls had soared in recent months to a hotline for caregivers who thought discrimination played a role in their layoffs.
Let the blizzard begin. If I had to pick a line of work with good job security right now it would be that of Court Clerk (followed by Process Server).

1 comment:

bill said...

The sharks and snakes ALWAYS manage to eat.