What Does Layoff Mean?

What Does Layoff Mean?

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What Does Layoff Mean?

If your employer has recently laid you off, you might ask, “What does layoff mean?” Layoffs can help a company trim its workforce in difficult times. However, what some employers call a “layoff” may simply be a wrongful termination due to discrimination, retaliation, or another unlawful act. If an employer wrongfully fires you under the guise of a layoff, you could be entitled to compensation.

Wrongful terminations can have devastating emotional and financial effects on employees and their families. If you lost your job in a dubious layoff, you should seek legal advice promptly. An experienced employment attorney can help you decide on your best course of action for getting justice.

Morgan & Morgan fights for the people. We have helped countless unfairly terminated employees stand their ground and fight back against unethical employers. Contact us today for a free consultation to determine whether you have a case.

What Is a Layoff?

Technically, a layoff is a temporary suspension or a permanent dismissal unrelated to performance. A single employee or a group of workers can be affected by layoffs. Layoffs are common during recessions and economic downturns when companies want to cut costs or downsize. Some laid-off workers receive severance payments.

The term “layoff” is typically not used when firing an employee due to subpar work, unacceptable behavior, or other reasons related to their workplace performance.

Was Your Layoff Legal?

Employers in at-will states may lay off employees for no reason whatsoever. However, employers may conceal the real reasons for the termination, falsely stating that the layoff was due to operational concerns or company-wide cost-cutting. Employers must not terminate employees for illegal reasons, such as discrimination or retaliation. When you suspect your employer illegally fired you, consider consulting with an experienced employment lawyer to understand your rights and legal options. Unlawful terminations can include:

Discriminatory Layoffs

A layoff may be illegal if it disproportionately affects a protected class, such as older workers, employees with a specific racial background, or those with a disability. If you are laid off due to your membership in a protected class, you could have legal recourse. Unlawful discrimination occurs when individuals are fired due to their:

  • Race
  • Age
  • Color
  • Gender
  • Disability
  • National origin
  • Religion
  • Marital status
  • Gender identity
  • Pregnancy
  • Sexual orientation
  • Genetic information

Corporations may not necessarily set out to discriminate against specific employees. However, the screening process for layoff may affect employees belonging to a protected group disproportionately. For example, if a company is screening out employees according to how much sick leave they have taken in the past, they might focus on disabled and older employees, resulting in illegal discrimination.

Layoffs Based on Retaliation

Figures from the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) show that retaliation was the most commonly filed charge with the agency in 2020. An employer might lay off employees because they file a workers’ compensation claim or report workplace discrimination. An employer could also illegally retaliate against employees reporting wage and hour violations.

Employers can legitimately lay off staff. However, they must not screen out workers based on retaliation. If you lost your job due to exercising your legal rights, you could have a wrongful termination claim against an employer. Our employment attorneys can help you understand your rights and options for getting justice if you were illegally laid off.

Terminations Violating Employment Contracts

Most US workers are employed at will. However, employees with an employment contract laid off for reasons other than those stated in the agreement could sue for damages.

Even if you do not have an employment contract, you could be protected by other binding agreements. For example, union members working under a collective bargaining agreement might be protected from layoffs in certain circumstances. The agreement may also detail your employer’s steps when deciding which employees to terminate.  

Your Legal Rights When Laid Off

Layoffs often occur suddenly and without prior warning. Consequently, employees may be emotional and shocked when they receive a layoff notice. They may even wonder, “What does layoff mean?” If this has happened to you, remember that even though you may not be able to keep your job, you could have certain rights.

For example, you could be entitled to severance pay if mentioned in your contract, your employer’s policies, or the employee handbook. You are also entitled to receive your last paycheck in a reasonable timeframe. Some states require employers to pay laid-off staff immediately or within 72 hours, while others give businesses more time. Since state laws and worker protections vary depending on where you live, seek legal advice as soon as possible.

If you do not know your rights, what to do, or where to turn after getting laid off, Morgan & Morgan is here for you. Our attorneys can advise you, clarify your rights, determine whether you have legal recourse, and move forward with a claim on your behalf. 

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Get answers to commonly asked questions about our legal services and learn how we may assist you with your case.

  • What are The Next Best Steps When You Are Laid Off ?

    Knowing what to do after getting laid off can be critical for protecting your legal rights and, in the case of wrongful termination, your right to sue for damages.

    Give Yourself Some Time to Process the News

    Receiving a termination notice can come as a huge shock, especially if you have been in your position for many years or even decades. Take a few days to digest what has happened. However, do not wait too long to learn about your legal rights as you could have legal recourse, and there may be a short deadline for filing a claim.

    Review the Terms of the Layoff

    If you have an employment contract, carefully review its terms. Your contract may include details regarding any severance packages, benefits, and medical insurance. Some employers attach conditions to severance payments. Therefore, consider contacting an attorney who can review the documents before you sign the severance agreement.

    Gather Evidence

    If you believe that you have been wrongfully laid off, start to gather evidence that supports your suspicion, which can include:

    • An employment contract
    • Correspondence with your employer, such as emails and texts
    • Names and contact details of coworkers who may have witnessed discriminatory or retaliatory actions by your employer

    Contact a Morgan & Morgan Employment Attorney

    Handling a wrongful termination case on your own can be tricky. You may first have to file a claim with your state or federal agency before you can file a lawsuit against your employer. Moreover, acting fast can be crucial as the deadlines to file a charge with the EEOC can be as short as 180 days. Failing to take the correct steps and adhere to your state’s deadlines could mean losing the right to sue your employer for compensation.

    A labor lawyer at Morgan & Morgan could help wrongfully dismissed employees in several ways, such as:

    • Determining your legal options
    • Filing your claim with the appropriate state or federal agency
    • Gathering and organizing evidence to prove your wrongful layoff case
    • Determining your losses such as benefits, back pay, and more
    • Filing a suit against your employer
    • Taking your case to trial and fighting strongly for what you deserve

    Our labor attorneys are experienced litigators who can leave no stone unturned in fighting for the best possible outcome of your wrongful termination claim. You pay nothing unless we win.

  • When Can I File for Unemployment After Layoff?

    Workers are generally entitled to collect unemployment benefits if terminated through no fault of their own. Therefore, workers laid off due to a company downsizing or a factory closing are generally eligible for unemployment benefits. However, depending on your state, there may be other requirements for collecting unemployment benefits, such as length of time at your job.

  • What Is the Difference Between a Layoff and Furlough?

    In a furlough, employees experience a temporary suspension for company-specific reasons, such as renovations, restructuring, or relocation of a business. Furloughed workers merely experience a pause in employment and usually keep their job titles and employee benefits as they eventually return to their position. Furloughs can also affect government workers, for example, during a government shutdown.

  • Do I Lose My Health Insurance When Laid Off?

    Most employees lose their health insurance when laid off. Losing your health insurance and, potentially, your family’s health plan can come as a blow. However, you may qualify for the federal Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) program, which allows employees to receive continued insurance for a limited amount of time under specific conditions.  

    However, individuals typically have to pay the entire premium for their plan, which can work out much more expensive than their previous employer-provided health insurance. Therefore, you might be better off shopping around for other plans, such as those offered under the Affordable Care Act. 

  • What Happens to My 401k If I Am Laid Off?

    What happens to your 401k after termination can depend on the type of plan. Ensure to ask your employer about your options. Although no longer allowed to contribute, you may be able to keep the 401k. Alternatively, you could cash out or roll over your 401k into another retirement account, such as an IRA. However, some of these options involve penalties and other disadvantages. Therefore, before taking action, consider seeking advice from a financial advisor or accountant regarding your options.

  • What Is an RIF?

    RIF stands for “Reduction in Force” and occurs when a corporation permanently eliminates specific posts. RIFs are slightly different from layoffs, as the intention is never to rehire the employees. Traditionally, a layoff used to be a temporary suspension of workers to rehire them later. A layoff may turn into an RIF if the business never rehires the laid-off workers.

    When RIFs May Not Be Legal

    Similar to layoffs, RIFs can happen when a company downsizes, restructures, relocates, or permanently closes a branch. However, in some cases, RIFs may be illegal. For example, if the workers singled out for an RIF all belong to the same protected group, such as individuals over 40, women, or those of a specific nationality or race, the employer may have illegally discriminated against a protected group.

  • I Was Laid Off for Reporting Labor Law Violations; Can I Sue?

    If your employer fires you due to reporting wage and hour violations, they unlawfully retaliate against you. Employers must not lay off workers for reporting violations or assisting other workers with a claim. If an employer illegally retaliated against you, you could sue for wrongful termination and pursue compensation, such as:

    • Reinstatement in your position
    • Back pay and lost benefits
    • Awards for emotional distress

    Since proving wrongful dismissal can be challenging, consider working with a labor lawyer. Morgan & Morgan’s motivated employment attorneys could help you hold an employer accountable for unlawful retaliation. 

  • How Much Does a Labor Lawyer Cost?

    Every law firm has its own fee structure. While some employment lawyers work with an hourly fee or a retainer, which can work out expensive for clients, others work on a no-win-no-fee basis (contingency). However, even those agreeing to take on your case with a contingency agreement may charge you out-of-pocket legal expenses. Therefore, make sure you know your costs from the outset.

    When we take your case, you don’t have to worry about paying your lawyer, as we don’t charge a dime upfront. Morgan & Morgan knows that losing your job can cause great emotional distress and financial hardship. We only get paid when we win, and you receive compensation.

  • We Can Fight Back for You

    Nobody should lose their job due to their gender, age, race, or disability. If you were laid off due to discrimination, filing a worker’s compensation claim, or another unlawful reason, you could be entitled to damages.

    If you are trying to understand what it means to be laid off, and suspect that you were fired for ulterior motives, you can fight back. Morgan & Morgan’s tenacious employment lawyers could help you stand up against an unscrupulous employer.

    Get started today and contact us for a free and confidential case review to clarify your legal options.

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