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TexLaw, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 4430
Experience:  Contracts, Wrongful termination and discrimination
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I was laid off because a my "position was eliminated" after

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I was laid off because a my "position was eliminated" after 8 years of employment, good performance reviews, and also being promoted approximately 2 years ago. The reasoning was that the revenue generated by the market I covered was inadequate to support the headcount we had assigned to that market (I was the last person that had been transferred in after working most of my time with the company in another department). Then my boss posted an open position for a almost the same position in the same department, but supporting a different market (one in which I have pretty good experience, although I'm probably not an expert yet, which is what say they want). I agree that it made sense to move resources from my market to the other one, the revenue makes this a reasonable decision. But my boss (of all of 2 months) gave no consideration to the possibility that I personally could make this transition. He just made it up in his head that I couldn't do it and decided. In the 2 months I worked for him he communicated with me directly maybe 4 hours so really didn't give me any chance at all to prove him right or wrong. This is a high-level position which will take 6 mos to a year to replace, yet the severance offered is approx. 4.5 mos. I am 50 years old. The company does consider itself an "at will" employer and I live in a state (Colorado) which tends toward "at will" views on employment. I was never notified of any performance problem. One last thing: he hasn't filled the new position because a hiring freeze was just put in place, so I can't say he replaced me. QUESTION: Should I sign their release waiver and take the severance? I really need the money, as my wife is unemployed as well. Thank you.

Thank you for your question and I'm very sorry to hear about this situation.

You touch on the main issue involved here, i.e., whether you are an At-Will employee. I assume you know this already, but for the sake of due diligence, here's a brief explanation on the At-Will Doctrine:

In Colorado, and throughout the United States, employment law heavily favors the employer in most situations. Unless the employee has a contract which provides that the employee may only be terminated for cause, the law will hold that the employee's right to work falls under the At Will Doctrine. The At Will Doctrine provides that an employer may terminate an employee for any reason whatsoever, even if it is a false reason. The only limitation on this is that an employer may not terminate an employee because of discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, military status, national origin, disability, age, or ancestry of the employee.

That being said, do you have any sort of employment contract?

Is there any company policy that says that in a situation like this, the company should look internally to transition an employee over before making that employee redundant and hiring from an outside source?

There is a smacking of potential age discrimination here. Were you the only one whose position was eliminated? Do you know if they are going to hire a person younger than you?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I don't think there's any official policy about transitioning. I think mainly my boss is not a very nice guy, and only cares about his own situation. So if it's a huge problem for me to make things a little better for him he doesn't care. Regarding age discrimination, I don't know for sure that they'll hire a younger person. I think he'll just hire someone who is the type of person he wants. I think he didn't like the idea of me transferring in and he didn't get to choose me. He doesn't care about my service to the company. Also, there are other positions being eliminated across the company, only me in my specific business unit.


But it sounds like I don't have that strong a case. My only thought was they gave me no notification to improve or anything like that, and that they fired me to hire someone else. I think I'd have a better case if they actually hired someone else, but after I got laid off the company put in place a hiring freeze. So even though his intent was to fire me and hire someone else, he probably won't be able to do it 'til next year. I'm leaning toward taking the money. Do you think my reasoning makes sense?

Yes I do. Based on what you have said, I don't think you have a case at all. This sounds like your boss is a jerk for not giving you credit for company loyalty, does not have the company's best interests in mind, and wants to hire his own people. Sadly, this is not a unique story in the employment law field, and is evidence of the decline in values in corporate America.

If there were a company wide cut of older employees, then there could be an age discrimination case. Or if he cut you and then hired a younger employee, this could also be a potential claim. But here, there does not seem to be anything at play other than bad management, which is not illegal.

Please let me know if you have any further questions. Please also kindly consider rating my answer positively so that I am compensated by the website for my work on your question. Rating positively does not cause an additional charge and does not prevent us from further discussing your questions.

Best Regards,
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