What Is the Difference Between Layoff and Furlough?

What Is the Difference Between Layoff and Furlough?

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What Is the Difference Between Layoff and Furlough?

Employment “at-will” represents a legal doctrine that states both employers and employees have the right to terminate an employment relationship at any time, and just about for any reason. Every state has enacted some form of the employment-at-will doctrine, with the most notable exception being some states do not apply the employment-at-will doctrine to public sector employment relationships. For example, Louisiana has established the employment-at-will doctrine for private sector relationships, but not for public sector employment relationships. Another exception concerns illegal acts, such as discriminating and retaliating against workers. Employment at-will employment relationships do not cover the illegal acts committed by an employer.

Although employment at-will concerns terminating employment relationships, does the same legal doctrine apply to furloughed and laid-off workers? Despite the many differences between layoff and furlough, both types of employment actions also qualify as employment-at-will arrangements. This means an employer does not need a reason to lay off or furlough a worker, as well as not having to provide notice of implementing each type of employment action. Your employer can furlough you or lay you off at any time, for any legally valid reason.

This brings us to the central question of what is the difference between layoff and furlough. One type of employment action is considered a temporary maneuver that typically buys a company time to get labor costs under control. On the other hand, the other type of employment action is considered more of a long-term, even permanent employment action taken to adjust to a rapidly changing labor market. Whether you receive a furlough or your employer lays you off, you should know the answer to the question, “What is the difference between layoff and furlough?”

At Morgan and Morgan, our team of employment attorneys has spent more than 35 years educating clients about the differences between layoff and furlough. We explain the implications of both types of employment actions, as well as determine whether an employer followed the employment-at-will legal principle when issuing either type of employment action. As with termination, an employer cannot furlough or lay you off for discriminatory and/or retaliatory reasons.

Schedule a free case evaluation to decide whether your employer violated labor law by issuing a furlough or by laying you off.

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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 Can I Expect From an Employment Attorney?

    Before you search for the right labor lawyer to represent you in a wrongful termination case, you should learn what the best labor lawyers do for their clients.

    Educate You About Your Rights

    Many employers depend on a lack of knowledge when it comes to state and federal employment laws. According to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, your employer cannot discriminate against you because of several demographic factors, including race, gender, religion, and national origin. If your employer issued you a furlough or a layoff notice because of one or more protected demographic factors covered under Title VII, you might have enough persuasive evidence to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or a civil lawsuit that seeks monetary damages.

    Working with one of the experienced labor attorneys at Morgan and Morgan educates you about your employment rights as granted by state and federal laws.

    Provide Support When Filing a Complaint

    The EEOC processes the complaints filed by terminated workers. In addition to handling termination complaints, the EEOC also addresses the complaints filed by workers that received a notice of furlough or layoff. Filing a complaint with the EEOC requires the submission of an accurate and fully completed form, as well as supporting evidence. For a vast majority of labor disputes, workers must file a complaint with the EEOC before they can take legal action by filing a civil lawsuit that seeks monetary damages.

    One of the highly-rated employment lawyers at Morgan and Morgan ensures you file an EEOC complaint before the deadline.

    Collect Evidence and Interview Witnesses

    Employment records stored by your employer can provide you with the evidence you need to file a convincing complaint with the EEOC. Copies of performance reviews and statements of promotions can show you have established a positive employment record. Downloaded emails sent by managers that praise your work performance also boost the strength of an EEOC complaint. Witness accounts provide legal support for the physical evidence gathered in both printed and digital form.

    Negotiate a Settlement

    The last thing your employer wants is to take a chance by litigating your employment case. Grabbing the attention of the EEOC represents another process your employer would rather avoid. If you receive an unlawful layoff or furlough, your employer might agree to make an attempt to negotiate a settlement that keeps your case out of the judicial system, as well as not raise the ire of the EEOC.

    Your employer submits an offer that your employer can either accept, reject, or send back with a counteroffer. Several rounds of counteroffers might ensue until both parties reach an agreement or both parties agree to take your case to the EEOC for processing. The employment attorneys at Morgan and Morgan prefer to negotiate a settlement instead of going through the costly and time-consuming litigation process.

    Represent You During the Litigation Process

    Getting legal support from an accomplished employment lawyer during the litigation process can help you win a judgment for monetary damages. A labor lawyer argues your case in front of a judge, as well as presents compelling evidence that demonstrates you received an unlawful furlough or layoff. Although the employment attorneys at Morgan and Morgan prefer to negotiate, we do not hesitate to file a civil lawsuit that seeks monetary damages if a client’s case warrants taking that type of legal action.

  • How Do Layoffs Work?

    Getting laid off is a more straightforward process than receiving an employment furlough. Your employer tells you the company no longer has enough work to justify keeping you on the payroll. Laying you off for a lack of work is considered a valid reason under the employment-at-will doctrine. Because a layoff is considered a long-term and often permanent type of employment action, you can expect to look for another job. However, when you look for another job, make sure to emphasize to every potential employer that your previous employer laid you off, not terminated you for just cause.

    An employee that is laid off might qualify to receive some form of financial assistance such as unemployment benefits and/or earned income tax credits. Since you provide financial support for employment-related safety net programs, you have the right to access them for financial assistance while you look for another job. Many non-profit organizations provide temporary financial assistance as well, such as food banks and charities that take care of utility bills.

    If you have worked for an employer for enough years, you might be eligible to receive severance compensation or a severance package that includes perks such as health insurance benefits. As a laid-off worker, you must report severance compensation and unemployment benefits as income when filing federal income tax forms. How much you pay in federal income taxes depends on your annual modified adjusted gross income. After getting laid off, you no longer can contribute to an employer-backed retirement plan or receive matching financial contributions from your former employer.

  • How Do Furloughs Work?

    A furlough represents a short-term break from work that is typically initiated by an employer. For example, a contract to begin work on a consultant project has not yet received approval from the client, which means your employer can put you on a temporary furlough until the contract starts. Your employer expects the contract to receive approval from the client and then, you return to your normal work schedule. Another example of a furlough concerns unpaid vacation, which your employer can assign in small increments throughout the year to address short-term declines in work volume.

    The biggest difference between a layoff and furlough is also the biggest relief for employees. If you receive a furlough, you should not have to look for another job. You also continue to receive the benefits you received before your employer issued the furlough. This means you continue to contribute to your employer’s retirement plan. You might be able to pick up some freelance work during a furlough, but only if your employer allows you to supplement your income when you take short-term time off from work.

    Some employers issue furloughs that act as layoffs to avoid paying employee benefits. If this happens to you, get in touch with one of the highly-rated employment attorneys at Morgan and Morgan.

  • What Professional Qualifications Should an Employment Attorney Have?

    You have several criteria to consider before hiring one of the best labor lawyers in the area where you live.

    First, experience matters, but only when it comes to developing a lengthy record of proven success. You should hire an employment attorney who has spent several years helping clients recover from the financial losses triggered by an act of wrongful termination. An employment attorney not only fights back against an act of wrongful termination but also against illegally issued furloughs and layoffs.

    Second, you should consider a litigator who specializes in handling wrongful termination cases. At Morgan and Morgan, our team of highly-skilled labor attorneys covers every type of employment law, including wrongful termination cases. An attorney who specializes in litigating wrongful termination cases helps you fight back against an illegal layoff or furlough.

    Third, your lawyer should respond promptly to emails, phone calls, and text messages. One of the most frustrating experiences for a client is to wait a long time before hearing back from an attorney. At Morgan and Morgan, we offer our clients a 24-hour a day toll-free hotline to answer general questions. Your lawyer should return any form of communication within the same business day or first thing the next morning at the latest.

    Finally, read the reviews left by clients on sites such as Yelp and Google to determine the skill level of every lawyer under consideration. At Morgan and Morgan, our more than 35 years of experience have allowed us to develop a long list of positive reviews that not only praise the skill level of our attorneys but their integrity and transparency as well.

    To learn more about what is the difference between a layoff and a furlough, schedule a free case evaluation today with one of the state-licensed employment attorneys at Morgan and Morgan.

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