Does an employerhave any legal obligation tohonor seniority when it comes to lay-offs?

UPDATED: Jan 19, 2012

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Does an employerhave any legal obligation tohonor seniority when it comes to lay-offs?

Our company recently dropped in sales and therefore had to cut hours of operation, as well as cut the staffs hours. One girl from our store has been on-call for a week. During those 9 days we weren’t able to call her in due to low sales. So the company has decided to lay her off. She has been there roughly 3 months longer than an employee that will be staying with the company. Is there any laws about letting someone go that has been employed longer? Does it matter if they let someone go that has been there longer than someone that stays?

Asked on January 19, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

The law says nothing about seniority, and provides no rights for seniority.

Seniority rights, if they exist, are typically guaranateed by a contract, particularly a union or collective bargaining agreement. If there is a contract providing for seniority rights, that contract is enforceable; otherwise, an employer is free to law off an employee with more seniority while retaining those with less.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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