Efficient And Effective Business Litigation

How do I legally prepare for a reduction in force?

On Behalf of | Mar 9, 2022 | Employment Law |

Very few Orange County employers look forward to those times where they have to reduce their work force and leave some employees without a job.

Indeed, decisions about layoffs are probably some of the toughest calls business management has to make, and they almost always get taken the wrong way by at least some workers.

This is why it so important that a California employer plans for layoffs, carefully, perhaps even more carefully than other terminations, in order to make sure that the layoffs are legal.

Otherwise, the employer may wind up being the target of discrimination suits or other legal claims at the hands of disgruntled former employees.

Layoffs must be based on objective and legal criteria

One key thing a California employer must remember is that a layoff cannot be used as a pretext for discrimination.

Neither the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which enforces federal employment law, nor California authorities will tolerate an illegal termination, whether it is because of a layoff or otherwise.

The best way to prevent this is to set up objective criteria for deciding which workers will be let go during a layoff or reduction in force.

The criteria must be based on lawful reasons, such as an objective evaluation of each employee’s work or the specific business needs of the company.

On the other hand, a business may not use or appear to use an employee’s age, race or other discriminatory factors to justify laying off a worker, even if it is true that the employer needs to reduce its force.

Furthermore, an employer must make sure that the criteria the employer uses does not have the effect of eliminating workers who disproportionately belonged to a group of people legally protected against discrimination.

Layoffs may require a business to seek out legal guidance

Other laws, particularly California laws, may also apply to business layoffs.

Orange County businesses may wish to consult with an experienced employment law attorney before conducting a layoff. Even with utmost attention to detail, it is also possible that a business will have to defend its decisions in a legal forum.