A recent New York Times article published on January 30th looks at the rise in employment discrimination suits that have arisen with the waves of corporate layoffs across the country. The article links the layoffs seen in the banking and corporate world with an upturn in individuals filing for EEOC complaints and seeking the advice of employment attorney’s.
In particular, the article notes the rise in employees filing claims stating that their rights of the WARN act had been violated. The WARN act or the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, is a Federal Labor law that aims to protect workers from being laid off by their employers without at least sixty days notice of termination and plant closures. For many of these companies that have gone under, like Lehman Brothers, adequate time notice was not given in many cases and has resulted in class action lawsuits.
As well, the overall economic downturn has resulted in many individuals re-evaluating the situations surrounding their termination and exploring their legal options. The 2005 expansion of the rights of elderly workers has made it so that plaintiffs must not prove that employment decisions were directed intentionally at elder workers, but that it simply had a disparate effect on that group of employees, further increasing claims against employers.
These factors, coupled with new labor laws and the Obama administrations willingness to act vigorously on behalf of the rights of workers signals the fact that more and more claims will be made.