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Can a Layoff Be a Wrongful Termination?Client-Focused & Passionate Representation

Can a Layoff Be a Wrongful Termination?


Since Florida is an at-will employment state, many employees who work in Palm Beach Gardens are at-will employees. What does it mean to be an at-will employee? According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, “at-will means that an employer can terminate an employee at any time for any reason, except an illegal one, or for no reason without incurring legal liability.” And, “likewise, an employee is free to leave a job at any time for any or no reason with no adverse consequences.” Otherwise, employees must have contracts that clarify the terms of employment and termination.

Whether an employee is an at-will employee or an employee working under the terms of an employment contract, if a layoff occurs, can that layoff constitute an unlawful, wrongful termination? It depends on the circumstances. Our wrongful termination lawyers in Palm Beach Gardens can explain.

Understanding Terms: Termination Versus Layoff 

Whether you are terminated (or fired) from your job, or laid off, the end result is the same: you no longer have your job. As US News & World Report explains, while the terms have the same effect, they refer to different circumstances for ending an employee’s employment. In general, being “terminated” or “fired” typically is the terminology used when a person loses their job for cause, or without a clear reason in an at-will employment situation.

The term “layoff,” differently, is used when an employer must end an employment relationship with an employee due to downsizing or a change in the company’s structure.

When is a Layoff Unlawful? 

Layoffs can be unlawful in two general types of situations.

First, a layoff is unlawful if the employee was “laid off” for discriminatory reasons. For example, if an employer has used the term “laid off” to end the employment relationship with all employees over the age of 50, then the layoff is actually a wrongful termination. Or, for example, an employer might say they are laying off employees but in fact are doing so in order to change the gender makeup of the workplace. There are many forms of discrimination that can result in an unlawful, or wrongful, termination in this type of circumstance, even when it is couched in terms of a “layoff” or being laid off.

Second, some employees are protected from layoffs without proper notice under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN Act). Employers with 100 or more employees are required under the WARN Act to comply with certain notice requirements if they plan to layoff employees or to close a plant that will result in layoffs.

Contact Our Palm Beach Gardens Wrongful Termination Lawyers 

Just because your employer has told you that you are being laid off — as opposed to being fired or terminated — does not necessarily mean that you are not the subject of a wrongful termination. If you have any questions or concerns, it is important to seek legal advice about your situation. One of the experienced Palm Beach Gardens wrongful termination attorneys at Sconzo Law Office can speak with you today about your case.





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