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You Must Be Careful When Planning Layoffs


In the wake of the internet age, it is becoming increasingly common to hear news of big box retailers closing stores due to declining in-store sales. With these massive business closures comes the reality that thousands of individuals will lose the jobs they rely on to feed their families. Thus, because of the sensitive nature of employment terminations, it is critical that all employers proceed carefully when planning and executing employee layoffs.

Due to the optimistic nature of most small business owners and entrepreneurs, they often struggle to grasp the reality that there will come a time when business may be decreasing and financial difficulties may arise. In many cases this dip in revenue may be effectively managed while experiencing minimal change around the workplace, however, there may come a point where a reduction in the size of the workforce must occur. When this unfortunate circumstance becomes a reality and the business owner has no choice but to layoff employees, it is important that they take the necessary steps to ensure that the layoffs are in no way discriminatory in nature.

Federal Employment Discrimination Laws

Federal law presents certain standards that must be adhered to in the event that an employer lays off employees. This means that employers must ensure that reductions in the workforce do not disproportionately affect certain groups of employees protected by employment discrimination laws. Some common examples of individuals protected under federal employment law include older employees and employees with disabilities.

How To Proceed

In order to prevent any circumstance where employment discrimination may occur, the United States Equal Opportunity Employment Commission recommends that business owners adhere to the following steps when potentially reducing the size of their labor force:

  • Start by formulating a list of employees who could potentially be terminated based on your predetermined layoff criteria. This could include productivity, knowledge, length of time with the firm, etc.;
  • Ensure that this list is confidential and then go through the list and identify if a large group of a certain demographic is represented;
  • If you identify that a certain group of people is disproportionately represented on your list of potential terminations, then you should make adjustments to your list to fix this based on the actual demographic percentages of your employment base.

Do You Need Help?

Laying off employees can be a complex and emotional topic. It is common for employers to be close to their employees and have a sense of caring for them especially when they have worked together for an extended period of time. What’s more is that you do not want to make a termination decision that could disrupt the company culture or potentially lead to allegations of employment discrimination. Therefore, if you are a business owner who is considering layoffs it is critical that you seek the counsel of a knowledgeable employment law attorney. Your attorney will be able to confidentially go through your specific situation and help you determine a plan that best helps your business and ensures you are acting within the law. If you need help contact Dilla Employment Law, P.A. in Clearwater today to schedule a free consultation.


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