Is it legal to lay off employees based on their financial needs?

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Is it legal to lay off employees based on their financial needs?

We were laid off today effective 11/1/10 because of downsizing. Instead of laying off by seniority, they opted to retain anyone that doesn’t have a pension or some other form of income. The staff retained consist of mostly young people, some of which are still on probation. Is this legal?

Asked on October 29, 2010 under Employment Labor Law, Nevada

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

I'm afraid that it is probably legal unless this action violated company policy or an employment/ union agreement. The reason is that most employment relationships are what is known as "at will"; meaning that you can choose to work for an employer or not, and an employer can hire or fire you for any reason or no reason.  While seemingly unfair it's the law.

The only other claim that you might be able to make is that this constitutes a form of employment discrimination - namely, age discrimination.  But I'm not sure on your facts if this will hold up - were only older people let go?  At this point you should speak to an employment attorney.  Once they have all of the facts they will better be able to advise as to your rights.


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