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Unfairly Laid Off
Have you been laid off from your job?
There are many reasons employers lay off their workers, some reasons may be unlawful. Whether the employer categorizes the employee’s end of employment as a layoff or a termination is not determinative. What matters in determining whether your former employer violated the law in ending your employment are the specific circumstances surrounding and the actual reasons behind your former employer’s decision to end your employment.
A layoff may be due to an employer ending the employment of a worker for reasons that are illegal, such as discrimination because of a protected personal characteristic such as race, national origin, and ancestry; religious beliefs; disability; medical condition; marital status; sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation; age (40 years of age or older), or military and veteran status, or for complaining of harassment or discrimination based on a protected personal characteristic.
A layoff may also be due to lawful reasons unrelated to job performance, such as workforce reductions or restructuring.
Employers sometimes try to conceal having laid off a worker for illegal reasons by falsely claiming that the layoff was a cost-cutting measure or due to misconduct or work performance or as part of a mass layoff. Such employees may have been unfairly laid off. Whether the employee is likely to succeed in a lawsuit for being unfairly laid off depends heavily on the details, of which there may be many. If you feel that you have been unfairly laid off, the top unfairly laid off attorneys at Kokozian Law Firm, APC are experienced in sifting through the details necessary to determine whether or not you may have a case.
California recognizes a number of illegal reasons for laying off employees. If an employer lays off an employee for an illegal reason, the employee may file a lawsuit and seek damages. Employees laid off for discriminatory reasons based on certain protected personal characteristics, or for complaining of discrimination or harassment in the workplace, or as part of a mass layoff without the employer giving employees the legally required amount of prior notice or without paying all wages due or selecting which employees to layoff based on discriminatory reasons, have likely been unfairly laid off and may pursue a claim against their former employer. If you believe you have been unfairly laid off, you should contact the lawyers at Kokozian Law Firm, APC who are well versed in representing Californians who have been unfairly laid off.Unfair Layoffs Resulting from Illegal Discrimination
It is the public policy of California “to protect and safeguard the right and opportunity of all persons to . . . hold employment without discrimination” on account of certain protected personal characteristics. Cal. Government Code § 12920. In furtherance of that public policy, California has enacted numerous laws (including the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), Cal. Government Code §§12900 – 12996) to protect individuals in the workplace and make it illegal for employers to discriminate and lay off employees from their jobs based on protected personal characteristics such as race, national origin, and ancestry; religious beliefs; disability; medical condition; marital status; sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation; age (40 years of age or older), and military and veteran status.
For example: As a long-term employee with a doctorate degree in engineering, who supervises two junior engineers, reaches 65 years of age, her supervisor begins asking whether she will be retiring soon and remarking that the company is looking forward to hosting a retirement party for her at a local hotel. Her supervisor also begins making comments, e.g. that she must feel awfully tired having to come into work at 7:00 a.m. five days a week, even though she has been starting work punctually at 7:00 a.m. for the past 20 years. The employee tells her supervisor that she enjoys her job and does not plan to retire for several years. Soon thereafter, her employer hires a third junior engineer for her to supervise. All three junior engineers are under the age of 40. The following month her employer lays her off, stating that they are eliminating her position to reduce costs. However, the three junior engineers formerly under her supervision remain with the company and assume her job duties. The employee feels that she was unfairly laid off. While not every employee who feels that they have been unfairly laid off has a valid claim for wrongful termination, in the example provided here it is likely the employee may have a claim that is actionable under California law. The specific facts involved are very important in determining whether a claim is likely to succeed in court. The attorneys at Kokozian Law Firm, APC are experienced in representing workers who have been unfairly laid off because of illegal discrimination. Feel free to contact them if you believe you have been unfairly laid off.
- Wrongful Termination Due To Physical Disability
- Wrongful Termination Due To Mental Disability
- Wrongful Termination Due To Medical Condition
- Wrongful Termination Due to Pregnancy
- Sex or Gender Termination
- Race Termination
- Sexual Orientation Termination
- National Origin Termination
- Religious Creed Termination
- Marital Status Termination
- Age Termination
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The FEHA also makes it illegal for an employer to lay off an employee because he or she has complained to the employer or a government agency about being discriminated against or harassed due to a protected personal characteristic. Cal. Government Code § 12940(h). An obvious example is when a long-term employee with a history of positive performance reviews complains to Human Resources that her immediate supervisor has been sexually harassing her, physically touching her and sending her sexually explicit texts and emails. The following day her employer terminates her employment without explanation. More commonly, employers violate this provision in more subtle ways, waiting a few days or weeks and then using a pretext to conceal the fact that the employee is being unfairly laid off for complaining of a practice prohibited by the FEHA. For example, two weeks after the employee complains to Human Resources of sexual harassment, two workers from another department are laid off as part of a downsizing. The employee who complained of sexual harassment is also laid off as part of the downsizing even though she works in an entirely different department with 30 employees and she is the only person from her department who was laid off. The employee was likely unfairly laid off and may have a claim for wrongful termination under California law. Please contact the attorneys at Kokozian Law Firm, APC if you believe you have been unfairly laid off because you complained of illegal discrimination or harassment.
There have been many layoffs in the past few years, with companies shutting down a division or an entire plant or location. When it comes to plant closings or mass layoffs, often referred to as “reductions in force” or “downsizing,” California law protects employees and their families by requiring that covered employers (those employing 75 or more persons in the preceding 12 months) give a 60-day notice to the affected employees prior to the plant closing or mass layoff. The law applies to layoffs affecting 50 or more employees in any 30-day period. Cal. Labor Code §§ 1400-1408, Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN Act). The required advance notice provides employees and their families time to prepare for the impending loss of employment by seeking alternative jobs or acquiring the skills or training necessary to successfully compete in the job market. If the employer fails to follow the Warn Act, affected employees may have the right to sue. Employers must abide by California wage and hour laws and pay all wages due at the end of the employment. In addition, employers must abide by the FEHA and not select which employees to lay off based on race, sex, age, or any other protected characteristic.
There are many ways by which an employer can violate California law through a mass lay off. For example, a software manufacturer fails to give at least 60-day notice before laying off 300 members of its workforce in response to a loss of market share for its products. This likely violates the Warn Act. In addition, the employer, after terminating the employees, fails to pay the employees all wages and bonuses they are owed. This likely violates California wage and hour laws. In another example, in response to a dramatic drop in imports passing through the Los Angeles Harbor, a long-established warehousing and distribution company gives proper notice under the WARN Act to lay off 50 percent of its warehouse workforce, 100 employees. The workers the company chose to lay off had low scores on a test given during a recent skills gap training session with an emphasis on computer proficiency abilities not normally needed in the warehouse. As it turns out, most of the workers being laid off are over the age of 40, while almost all of the workers the company is retaining are under the age of 40. This decision has a disproportionate effect on employees over 40 years of age and is likely age discrimination in violation of the FEHA. Please contact the attorneys at Kokozian Law Firm, APC if you believe you have been unfairly laid off for any reason, including any situation similar to those described above.
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If you believe you have been unfairly laid off, we may be able to help you. At Kokozian Law Firm, APC our dedicated attorneys are here to assist you in these trying times. We represent people throughout California. Please contact us if believe you were unfairly laid off for a free consultation.