Sometimes discrimination seems really, really obvious. The “Layoff of One” is just that type of situation. When there’s a layoff that only involves one person, and that person is older… that’s a pretty good indication that age discrimination is happening.
What Does It Mean?
Sometimes employers want to get rid of an employee who has too much seniority, too much influence, or just simply earns too much money… but they don’t have a valid reason for terminating them. So what do they do? Contrive a situation where “layoffs” or “a reorganization” are necessary. The need for a layoff or reorganization is clearly fake, a pre-text for terminating an employee they don’t want around anymore but have no good reason to part ways with.
What Are Some Examples of This?
In the case of Collazo v. Bristol-Myers Squibb Mfg., the employee, Luis Collazo, had come to the aid of a female co-worker who had been sexually harassed by a supervisor. Mr. Collazo made multiple efforts to assist his co-worker – he went to meetings with human resources, to try to get them to begin an investigation and to get the behavior to stop. Despite their efforts, no substantial effort was made and the female co-worker filed a complaint against the company. Shortly after that, Collazo was terminated as part of a “corporate reorganization.” The court found that no other employees were terminated in the reorganization, and that the reorganization was nothing more than a pre-text to retaliate against Collazo for having helped his co-worker.
In the case of Currier v. United Techs. Corp., the employee, Mr. Currier, had his job title changed from “business unit manager” to “manager of new business development” and the new role had limited supervision, no review process, and was Mr. Currier was given limited support in this role. Several years later when the company decided to do layoffs in that division, Mr. Currier’s position was the only one chosen for reduction. He requested transfer to one of two available “business unit manager” positions, given that he had extensive experience in that role. However, he was denied the transfer, and those positions were filled with younger, less-experienced employees. The court found that the reason for the layoff was a pre-text, and that in fact Mr. Currier had been the victim of age discrimination.
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