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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 12467
Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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I was a remote (work from home) worker. My recent

Customer Question

I was a remote (work from home) worker. My recent performance review rated me above several other workers. One other worker and I were laid off due to a reduction in work force. I was told my performance, exceeds expectations, and was not the reason for my release - instead it was because I worked remotely.
Should I have been informed that I would be released for that reason ahead of time and been given an opportunity to change to going to the office daily before the layoff?
We had an agreement that the remote work would only last for several years and that time had not expired. Shouldn't the layoff be determined by performance only?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Good evening and thank you for entrusting me to assist you. My name is ***** ***** I will do everything I can to answer your question.

Were you working remotely to accommodate a disability of some kind? If not, what was the reason?

I very much look forward to helping you on this matter.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
When the job was offered to me they allowed me to let my kids finish high school - my daughter was a junior and my son was a sophomore. I had been a contractor for several years before and they had been offering me the job in office before due to my good performance. The work from home was a temporary solution and involved commuting to the office for meetings, testing and integration. A VP recently ask a Senior Manager about how the remote work situation was working and his response was good. This made me feel it was not a problem.I need to know if this was justified since I have to sign a release to get severance pay (I am 60 yrs old).Regards,
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
When I was contracting for 7 years it was remote (at home) except when I had to go to the campus for software testing. They simply extended the arrangement when I signed on as an employee.
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for your reply, Dennis.

Unfortunately, the general rule in Virginia is that employment is "at will" absent an express agreement to the contrary. At will employment can be terminated for any reason not amounting to discrimination on the basis of a legally protected trait (race, religion, gender, etc.) or retaliation for engaging in certain forms of legally protected conduct (filing a wage claim, taking FMLA leave, etc.). It doesn't matter whether the basis for termination is fair, reasonable or even true.

So, while it was certainly unfair not to inform you that working from home was going to cause you to be laid off despite your excellent performance reviews, it is not illegal to be unfair in this respect. "Working from home" is not a "legally protected trait" or "legally protected activity," and so can be used as a basis for personnel decisions, fair or unfair. The only exception would be if you were working from home due to a physical disability of some sort, in which case this might be viewed as a form of disability discrimination. But the reasons you cite as the reasons for why you worked from home would not allow for this argument.

Therefore, I'm afraid that nothing about being laid off under the circumstances you describe would appear to violate any law, despite it being understandably frustrating.

I hope that you find this information helpful and am genuinely sorry if it is not what you were hoping to hear. Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above and I will be more than happy to assist you further.

If you do not require any further assistance, please be so kind as to provide a positive rating of my service so that I may receive credit for assisting you. Very best wishes moving forward.