Understanding New York workforce reduction laws can be complicated to say the least; however, speaking with a qualified employment law firm can alleviate many questions and concerns associated with workforce reduction in New York.
What is Workforce Reduction?
Workforce reduction, downsizing, and RIF (reductions in force) occur when companies institute a collective termination of a significant number of employees or reduce available work hours to employees in an effort to cut operating costs. Permanent termination of the employee is most often associated with workforce reduction situations; however, workforce reduction situations can also include furloughing employees, aggregating duties and core job functions to reduce the number of workers required to produce the end product, and limiting or reducing the number of hours available for employees to work. The reasons for workforce reduction are many, including suffering economic climates and poor business management. Because workforce reductions typically involve massive layoffs, companies must exercise extreme caution when pursuing an RIF.
Do you have any rights when your company is downsizing?
Well, that depends. In most cases of employment, the employee or worker is hired ‘at-will’, meaning the company may choose to terminate their position at any time and for any reason (of course, assuming the reason is valid and not illegal). Even with that said, at-will employees do have some protections from workforce reduction, such as protection from discrimination on the basis of disability, gender, age, religion, ethnicity and sexual preference. Therefore, if a company terminates only a certain ‘group’ of people, they may be sued for employment discrimination. This scenario holds true even if the RIF unintentionally generates an unfair outcome to a ‘discriminated’ group. As well, the WARN Act (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act) requires companies who employee greater than 100 workers to provide a written 60-day notice of termination to the employee prior to initiating a layoff. Failure to follow employment law guidelines in New York or anywhere else, for that matter, can result in liability.
Employees suffering from unfair workforce reductions may seek the advice of legal counsel to determine if their rights were, in fact, violated. Remedies can include the employee’s reinstatement too the company or compensation for their lost wages. If you have questions or concerns regarding an impending layoff or past termination, contact your New York employment law firm today.