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Avoid Legal Litigation During Layoffs with Proper HR Documentation

"Companies should work with HR to minimize the legal risks of any planned reductions in force," according to Sozeen Mondlin, associate general counsel with the MITRE Corp. "Given today's economic climate, we all have to expect more activity in this area," she said at the Association of Corporate Counsel annual conference here Oct. 20, 2008. "It is notoriously hard for employers to win reduction in force cases," she added.

These cases are a world apart from terminating someone for, say, embezzlement. In litigation over layoffs, the plaintiffs often are "nicer, older" former employees who are much more sympathetic to juries than faceless companies.

"Have an HR professional create proper layoff documentation in advance."

The decision-making process for any layoff should be thoroughly documented and include the business case for the layoff. The employer must be able to document why particular individuals or workgroups were selected to be laid off or not, based on objective criteria such as performance, suitability to remaining and expected work.

Need help?

LAI has tools that can help you create the documentation you need to keep your company's layoff decisions compliant with the most up-to-date national labor laws and codes.

You can reach LAI's team of HR professionals at 770-248-0401 or at sheila@laihr.com.