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Riffed Latrobe staff wants EEOC inquiry: Was bias involved?


Like many municipalities, the city of Latrobe is struggling with falling revenue. City Manager Rick Stadler attempted to address the city’s shortfall by eliminating six clerical positions, while the Office of City Administration cut two staffers. Now all eight employees have requested an EEOC probe into the terminations to determine if they violated anti-discrimination laws.

When the riffed ‘group’ is just one worker, expect a lawsuit


When the borough of Netcong implemented a reduction in force, 28-year employee Delores Colabella was the only employee whose position was eliminated. Colabella suspected her termination might have something to do with her age. She’s 72. Now she is suing the borough for age discrimination.

Cutting jobs? Prepare to show a solid business reason

When a 64-year-old worker sued for age bias, his employer pulled out documentation showing a big budget gap that required the elimination of several positions. The court said that when a legitimate RIF occurs, an employee has to provide “direct, circumstantial or statistical evidence” showing age bias. He couldn’t.

Conducting a RIF? Use diplomatic language


In these difficult economic times, if you have to conduct a reduction in force, think carefully about how you select those who will be terminated, especially if you anticipate bringing some workers back when the financial picture improves. For example, don’t tell employees they were picked for layoffs because their work was substandard. Use a gentler approach.

What are our obligations for notifying workers and government officials about a big layoff?

Q. Due to the economy, we are considering shutting down our business. Are we required to give advanced notice to our employees?

In case of layoffs, must we offer severance and pay out accrued, unused vacation?

Q. We are in the process of reducing our staff and will need to lay off several employees. Are we required to provide severance pay to those selected for layoff? How about pay for accrued, unused vacation time?

MHRA: Court clarifies what’s marital bias

The Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA) makes it an unfair employment practice to terminate an employee based on marital status. The Court of Appeals of Minnesota has now clarified that the law covers more than the state of being married; it also bans discrimination based on who one’s spouse is.

Prepare business case to justify job cuts


Courts understand reductions in force and recognize that companies sometimes have to make tough decisions. When an employer can show it had good reasons for cutting employees through a RIF, affected employees will have to come up with solid discrimination evidence early in the litigation game.

Beware shifting explanations for HR decisions


When it comes to hiring and retention decisions, make sure that everyone involved in the process is on the same page. Decide on the criteria and stick with them for all candidates. Otherwise, shifting explanations about who is chosen and who is rejected can look like intentional efforts to manipulate the choice and hide underlying discrimination.

If worker on RIF list has sought reasonable accommodations, be prepared to justify


Watch out! If you’re contemplating reducing your workforce in order to survive today’s harsh economic climate, you need to prepare for potential litigation. To do that, make sure you carefully document why you are making the reductions. That’s especially critical if you have been negotiating reasonable accommodations for a disabled employee who may be on your RIF list.