The employment forecast for Chicago has come in and it’s not friendly. Recent reports are surfacing that show a disparaging trend of companies laying off their most loyal employees. According to a recent NBC report, more than 1,400 jobs in and around the greater Chicago area are expected to be “cut over the next few months.” Companies making the most significant downsizes include: Pace Industries, PPG Industries, Sears and others. While in many cases layoffs are legitimate and are perfectly within the confines of the law, sometimes they may result due to discrimination. Knowing whether a layoff may have legal ramifications requires advice from an experienced employment lawyer.
Employers Cannot Discriminate with Layoffs
The most important thing to know about layoffs is that your employer does not have the right to discriminate. While most employees are under something called an “at will” agreement – which means that they have the right to quit at any time, and that the employer has the right to terminate them at any time, whether there is or is not cause – discrimination is still protected. For example, if a company used a mass layoff to get rid of mostly female employees or employees of a specific ethnicity, they’d be in violation of federal law.
Contracts May Protect You
If you have a written employment contract, there may be additional legal protection. For example, if you had a contract that stipulated a certain guaranteed duration of employment, and you were let go for reasons outside of that contract, it’d be in your best interest to speak to an employment lawyer to get an idea of what your options may be. In certain cases, the employer who laid you off may be in “breach of contract.” In other cases, such as that of union members, your Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) may offer additional protections.
Mass Layoffs Require Advanced Notice
The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act mandates that companies employing more than 100 employees that are planning a mass layoff are required to provide 60 days written notice first. This only applies to layoffs where at least 500 or more employees will be terminated at a solitary location, however. It’s important to note that his Act does not offer protection from being laid off, and it also does not require that your employer tender severance, either.
You Have Rights
You do have rights, even if they may not result in you being able to retain your position. For example, you have the right to be paid out a severance, if one is allotted in your employment contract or employee handbook. You also have rights that protect you against discrimination as well as the right to receive your final paycheck in a timely manner. Being proactive is always the best approach. If you have questions regarding the legality of your layoff, it’s always important to gain advice from experienced legal counsel.