The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recently revived an age discrimination lawsuit brought against printing giant QG LLC by a former Plant Facilities Manager, finding that QG could not hide behind the poor economic climate and its own decision to reduce headcount when it discharged the manager and replaced him with a younger employee, particularly

Charlotte Beck had been employed with Buckeye Pipeline Services Company (“Buckeye”) for over 16 years as a 12-hour operator. In 2009, however, Buckeye underwent a company-wide reduction in force. Buckeye created a “design team” to reform the organizational structure of the Company and implement a team-based leadership model that would be used going forward.
Continue Reading Does the Use of Subjective Criteria in a RIF Show Discrimination? The Sixth Circuit Says Not Necessarily

In a press release issued yesterday, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reports that, in its fiscal year 2008 there was a 15 percent increase in the number of employment discrimination charges filed against employers. This steep increase was no doubt fueled, in part, by job losses in the beginning stages of the economic recession. The continued down-turn of the economy in the last quarter of 2008 and early months of 2009 makes it almost certain that the number of discrimination charges will continue to increase.
Continue Reading EEOC Experiences Sharp Rise In Discrimination Charges: How to Lessen Your Risk of Being Part of This Trend

Unfortunately, my law partner Mike Underwood was correct when he predicted in his February 1, 2008 post  “Building a Model for a Defensible Reduction-in-Force,” that economic challenges in the current economy may result in more reductions in force. The Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics report for May showed 67 dismissals of groups of 50 or more employees in Ohio. This figure was nearly double the amount of such terminations in May ’07, when the Bureau reported 34 dismissals of 50 or more. Overall, Ohio unemployment claims have more than doubled to 7,621 from 3,350 a year ago, earning Ohio the dubious ranking of having among the top 10 highest volumes of claims in the United States.

Mike’s February post described some key steps to keep in mind when faced with downsizing decisions. Here are few more:

Continue Reading Tough Times, Tough Decisions for Ohio Employers

Economic challenges in the current economy may result in business strategies that include reductions-in-force. It is very common after a reduction-in-force for legal claims to be pursued by terminated employees, sometimes as multiple-plaintiff lawsuits. Possible claims include allegations that the reason for selection of a person to be terminated was illegal (i.e., age, race, sex, medical condition, use of FMLA, whistleblower, etc.). A successful defense requires showing not just that there were legitimate reasons to reduce the workforce but also the specific legitimate reason that the complaining employee was selected for termination. Not having a carefully planned and documented approach to the decision-making can result in time-consuming and expensive litigation. Also, a well-planned and documented approach to the reduction-in-force will promote reasoned, careful, and sound business decisions, which support the Company’s overall objective for reducing costs and improving efficiency.

Here is a brief outline of steps that should be included in any plan for implementation of a reduction-in-force:

Continue Reading Building a Model for a Defensible Reduction-in-Force