The British call layoffs “redundancies.” I prefer the American term – layoff – because it focuses on the employer’s need in times of economic stress (“I can no longer afford to pay you and so must lay you off) to the British locution which focuses on the employee’s presumed inefficiency (“because your work is being performed (better?) by others, you have become redundant.”)
Why the attention to semantics? Because in times of massive law firm layoffs (see Law Shucks Lay-off Tracker here) you don’t want today’s efficiency become tomorrow’s crushing legal liability.
So how do you avoid the looming threat of litigation by laid off employees? According to researchers, you terminate graciously, honestly, with expressed respect and compassion, and, if possible, with offers to help the laid off employee find work and replace critical benefits such as health insurance.
Why do terminated employees bring suit? It’s not, as I’m always saying, just about the money.
Researchers have found, for instance, that:
Finally, and most importantly for law firm management, the best predictor of a former employee’s willingness to file claims for wrongful termination was highly educated respondents.
Researchers have also catalogued the most common on-the-job experiences that lead to litigation, including most prominently,
“Blaming and claiming” activity (lodging grievances; seeking relief from the EEOC; retaining legal counsel to file suit) is strongly correlated with the manner in which employees are terminated.
Because Termination Causes Employees to Reevaluate Fairness in Working Conditions. And you do not want to give employees the opportunity to reevaluate those conditions in light of their last employment experience – termination – unless that experience is positive.
The researchers have found that:
The experts therefore recommend that employers:
According to a recent ABA Journal article entitled One Lawyer Layoff Saves an Average of $250,000 also notes that:
If law firms don’t want these savings to start bleeding red ink, they’d do well to study “naming, claiming and blaming” behaviors of terminated employees and to implement processes and procedures to reduce the potential for litigation flowing from these cost-saving measures.
For further reading, see my own Power Point Presentation from which most of the above statistics were taken here and the article from which most of that information was derived: The Winding Road from Employee to Complainant here.
Conflict Remedy Blog by Lorraine SegalRecently, I was called in to consult with the board of a volunteer service organization experiencing some serious problems with internal conflict. As in many...By Lorraine Segal