Layoffs: Employees should Know their Rights
There is one word that usually fills employees across the country with dread: layoffs. When a company decides to close stores or plants, downsize, restructure, merge, or file for bankruptcy, many employees usually lose their jobs through no fault of their own. Layoffs have especially been in the news lately, as the following companies have made announcements:
· Walmart intends to lay off 2,300 Sam’s Club employees;
· Macy’s plans to lay off 2,500 employees;
· JCPenney will lay off 2,500 after closing 33 stores;
· Target recently laid off 475 employees from its headquarters office;
· Sprint plans to lay off 300-500 people during the first half of 2014.
How a company decides whom to lay off should always be scrutinized, however, and laid off employees should always know their rights, as many state and federal laws apply to laid-off employees.
NoticeThe Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) applies to large employers with over 100 employees, and require the employers to provide at least 60 days of notice prior to a plant closing or mass layoff. This notice aims to prepare employees for potential job loss and help them seek new employment or otherwise plan ahead.
If you are laid off, you are entitled to the full amount of wages for the hours you worked. Oregon state wage laws are strict and require an employer pay a fired or laid-off employee in full by the end of the next business day following the discharge. If you do not receive your pay in full by end of the next business day, you should contact an attorney to help you send proper notice of nonpayment to your employer. Employers are not allowed to hold final checks pending the return of tools, equipment, uniforms, or any other such reason.
Though no Oregon law requires severance pay, employers may have policies to pay laid-off employees severance. If an employer has such a policy, it must apply that policy equally. Severance agreements may state that you give up you rights to bring any future claims against your employer (see below) in exchange for the pay, so you always want to consult with an attorney to see if accepting a severance agreement is the right thing for you.
Oregon law prohibits employers from discriminating against employees based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, disability, or family relationship. If you believe you were laid off solely because of one of those reasons, you can bring a claim for discrimination against your former employer. If you have been laid off and believe your employer violated any related laws, you should contact an experienced employment lawyer at the offices of HKM today for a consultation.