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Why widespread layoffs may lead to wrongful termination claims

On Behalf of | Apr 29, 2024 | Wrongful Termination |

Wrongful termination lawsuits often begin with an individual losing their job. Someone who gets fired after asking for medical leave or becoming a whistleblower might reasonably suspect that the company terminated them for engaging and protected workplace activities.

A person who suspects that a company fired them for an unlawful reason could file a lawsuit seeking to regain their employment or obtain compensation for the economic impact of their job loss. A significant number of wrongful termination lawsuits involve groups of employees taking action together after layoffs or large-scale staff reductions at a company.

Attempts to reduce staffing due to restructuring or a merger could lead to allegations of wrongful termination in some cases. When does the decision to eliminate the positions of multiple workers become a case of wrongful termination?

When the company targets a specific group

An organization restructuring due to financial challenges or a recent merger may get rid of a large number of workers in a relatively small amount of time. Doing so is not automatically illegal, provided that the company doesn’t discriminate or retaliate when choosing who to keep on staff and who to let go.

In some cases, a restructuring effort might be a paper-thin cover designed to obfuscate the company’s decision to terminate all the workers involved in union negotiations. The termination of those workers could constitute unfair retaliation and might be a violation of employment laws.

Other times, protected characteristics, not protected activities, are what connect the workers who lose their jobs. Companies should not consider race, religion, age or medical condition when deciding who gets to keep their job and who gets laid off or terminated.

When one specific group of workers who all share a protected characteristic have disproportionate representation in the pool of workers laid off or fired, those workers may have reason to believe that the company discriminated against them by considering their protected characteristics when making key employment decisions.

Provided that there is a consistent element connecting workers who lost their jobs and that those trends among those fired or laid off seem to indicate discrimination or retaliation, it may be possible to take legal action against an employer for considering inappropriate details when making employment decisions.

Pursuing a wrongful termination lawsuit can help people bounce back from losing their jobs unexpectedly and can deter companies from continuing to retaliate or discriminate in the future. Workers who understand when a termination may be wrongful are in a position to assert themselves after losing a job.