When is downsizing potentially discrimination?

On Behalf of | Nov 15, 2023 | Workplace Discrimination |

Downsizing is often unfortunate but necessary. A business may need to reduce its staff in order to cut costs. These mass layoffs may be the only practical way to do so.

For example, perhaps the business was expanding because there wasn’t much competition. But a new competitor has recently eaten into the market share. The sales no longer justify the number of people on staff, so some of them have to be let go, even though they haven’t made any mistakes or given any reason to be fired.

But even though downsizing itself may be necessary and legal, it can lead to some issues with discrimination. This could also lead to a wrongful termination. It’s important for people to understand how this could happen.

How does downsizing impact certain groups?

The issue is when downsizing has a disproportionate impact on specific groups of people. If these people are in a protected class, then the downsizing could be seen as discriminatory.

For example, say that a company has 50% female employees and 50% male employees. But when the downsizing happens, 80% of those who lose their jobs are women. Does this mean that they were discriminated against based on their gender? Or say that the majority of those who are fired are over 40 years old, even though most of the employees are younger. Is the downsizing really just an attempt to cover up age discrimination? 

These are important questions to ask, and it’s clear that a situation like this can become complex. Those involved must be well aware of their legal options. 

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