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Downsizing Questions

Downsizing, also known as "trimming the fat" is a common practice in the business world, used in an attempt to make the business more efficient. Downsizing generally begins with thinning the overall number of employees within a company. With a weak economy, downsizing may be the difference between keeping the company afloat or sinking. Downsizing and layoffs can create a panic among employees and many questions will arise. Many people ask the Experts for answers about company downsizing and employment law. The Experts cover a wide range of downsizing related questions and can answer any question you may have. Below are five of the top downsizing questions that have been answered by the Experts.

Can employers deny a severance package if an employee refuses to relocate? Also, can an employee be terminated while on medical leave?

Without a written employment contract, your employer isn't required to offer you any type of fringe benefits. However, if you think that you are denied a severance based on a protected class such as age, race, gender, religion, or disability, you could file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and allow them to determine if you have a discrimination suit.

As for your second question, without a contract that states otherwise, your job is protected for 12 weeks under the Family and Medical Leave Act. If your employer terminates you during the 12 weeks, you can file a complaint with the EEOC and the commission on human/civil rights. However, once the 12 weeks are up, your employer can terminate you.

If an employee is terminated due to a company downsizing, should the employee "help" the ex-employer?

You shouldn't be expected to do anything for your ex-employer unless you want to. Considering the fact that the employer let you go, you should hesitate to do any favors for them. If in fact, they need your assistance, they should be paying you a consultant fee or offering you a job. There is no legal obligation that requires you to assist the ex-employer, especially without pay.

If a company is downsizing and offers an employee a different position in order to keep their job, does the company have to give a job description?

A company isn't required to offer a job description. If a company did give a job description, they are not legally bound to the description. The legal aspect of the job description is that it is not an employment contract; therefore it doesn't create a legally binding structure. This also allows the employer to change the circumstances of a position at any point during the employment. The choice is yours to determine if the changes are worth the pay and your time.

In Louisiana, is it legal for a company that is downsizing to offer an employee another position, but later terminates the employee?

Louisiana law states that if you don't have a written contract with your employer, they can terminate your position at any time and without cause. As long as the employer doesn't terminate your position based on your race, age, gender, religion or a disability, they are within their right to terminate you.

In California, is it legal for a company that is closing to deny the employee's benefits that have already been earned?

If an employer denies an employee's benefits that have already been earned, they are in violation of California labor law. You can contact the Department of Industrial Relations and report the violation. You can go here: http://www.dir.ca.gov/

When a company begins downsizing in order to stay afloat in a poor economy, the employees are flooded with panic. Many people have questions about their employment rights and want to learn more about corporate downsizing and how it affects the employee. If you are dealing with company downsizing, need downsizing help, or just want to learn more about downsizing and layoffs, you can ask an Expert. The Expert's answer many questions related to downsizing and can offer you a solution to your individual situation in an efficient and knowledgeable manner.
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Recent Downsizing Questions

  • We just terminated an employee for misconduct, poor performance

    We just terminated an employee for misconduct, poor performance and also because we are downsizing. She is threatening to take us to the labor board for a multitude of imagined wrong-doings on our part. She sounds very knowledgeable about labor laws, etc. as though she has sued and or complained about employers in the past. Frankly, she doesn't seem very mentally stable. Is there a way to find out if she is a habitual filer of claims against employers?
  • I was recently off because the company was downsizing.

    I was recently laid off because the company was downsizing. There were only 2 people laid off & one was hired back plus an additional full time employee & 2 prn employees. I have worked in this office for over 14 years without a single write up. I was told I was chosen because I would have an easier time finding another job because I am younger & take pride in my appearance. I have letters of recommendation that state the lay off had nothing to do with work performance but because I would have an easier time finding new employment versus the other women in the office. I feel like I have been singled out because I'm younger & take pride in my appearance. Is this discrimination?
  • Good afternoon. I was given a severance package when I left

    Good afternoon. I was given a severance package when I left the firm May 13, 2014 (one time lump sum payment). I was informed I have 45 days to sign the agreement (which I have not et signed). I read that in New York state if you don't sign the agreement until the 31st day, that after the expiration of the year you are eligible to file for unemployment benefits after the year expires. Is that a proper interpretation? Many thanks.
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