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Discrimination in the course of layoffs

Unfortunately, many residents of Fresno, California, know all too well that layoffs are a part of the economic cycle. From time to time, even the healthiest companies must adjust to market conditions by letting workers go.

This is not wrong per se, as employers have the freedom to control the number of employees they keep on staff. However, a layoff can run afoul of state and federal discrimination laws. If a Fresno employee believes that they were terminated in an unlawfully biased or discriminatory layoff, then they have some legal options available.

One example of an illegal layoff would be where an employer is intentionally using the layoff to target a protected class of workers. IBM has been accused of this sort of behavior recently, as several employees have alleged the company used layoffs to weed out older employers and replace them with younger employees as part of a corporate strategy.

However, employers have more obligations than not intentionally engaging in discriminatory practices during a layoff. Even if everything is above board on the surface, an employer who is about to lay off staff needs to have objective criteria for doing so.

Moreover, a layoff may not affect a protected class of workers disproportionately. An example of a disproportionate impact would be if a layoff affected 60 percent of women and women only constitute 20 percent of a company's work force.

As with other personnel decisions, a layoff is no excuse for employment discrimination. An employee who is discriminated against during a layoff may have the ability to pursue compensation and other relief.

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