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Five Laws That Protect You During Layoffs

Five Laws That Protect You During Layoffs

Dona DeZube | Monster Finance Careers Expert

Federal laws that prohibit discrimination include:

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits companies from making employment decisions based on race, religion, sex (but not sexual orientation), pregnancy or national origin, explains Neil Patrick Parent, an attorney with Reavis Parent Lehrer LLP in New York City.

Title I and Title V of the Americans with Disability Act of 1990, which prohibit employment discrimination against those with disabilities.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, which protects workers 40 and older.

The Older Workers Benefit Protection Act, which covers workers over 40 caught in a group layoff. The law gives you extra time to consider any severance waiver your employer offers and a week to change your mind after signing a waiver.

Big Company Layoffs

If your employer is large, The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, which sets rules for notifying workers about large layoffs and plant closures, may cover you.

Handbooks, Severance Not Binding

Employee handbooks typically cover layoffs, severance, pay for unused vacation and your duty to return company equipment, Johnson says.

However, an employer can change the rules and then do a layoff under the new rules. “If an employer has reserved the right to change [the handbook] — and most do that — they can change it,” says Karen McLeese, vice president of CBIZ, a Kansas City, Missouri, HR consulting firm.

A company can also say it’s broke so no one gets severance. “Severance [is] an unsecured promise to pay unless they’ve funded it into a trust,” McLeese says.