During times of industry change or slow economic growth, your business may have to streamline operations in order to stay open. If you find yourself in that difficult situation where you must let go of some of your staff to protect the company and the remaining employees, the decisions are hard. It is never easy to determine which employees to keep and which to let go.
Those who are let go from the company will very likely have some anger or resentment about the loss of their job. Some might even try to claim that you violated their rights or discriminated against them. How can you protect your business from these kinds of allegations if you intend to downsize in the near future?
Be cautious about which employees are let go
The most critical step that you can take to protect your company from allegations of discrimination when downsizing is to ensure that you don’t unintentionally target one protected group for termination. If one gender, religion or race has disproportionate representation among the people who lose their jobs, it may be time to revisit the criteria that you used to make decisions.
Use verifiable criteria for decisions when downsizing
In addition to reviewing the list of employees to be let go during downsizing to check for trends regarding race, age and other characteristics, you should also make sure you have reasonable criteria for making the decision about whom to retain.
Objective qualifications like job performance, attendance and other metrics are better than personal preference. Having paperwork documenting how you evaluated your workers and reached decisions about which employees to retain and which to let go will make it easier for your business to defend against allegations of discrimination in firing and hiring decisions. An experienced attorney can offer valuable guidance.