Suing soon to be former employer, do I have a case?

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co_investor
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Suing soon to be former employer, do I have a case?

Post by co_investor » Fri Jul 14, 2017 9:37 am

I'll try to keep it short.

My employer of over 10 years is closing down our regional offices, we were told we were getting laid off in 30 days.
A few days later, I get an offer to go work in a different location (for the same company), half way across the country, different (terrible schedule), way lower pay and they want me to cover my travel/moving expenses. I thanked them but declined the offer.

Now, my (still) current boss is saying that because I declined their (terrible) offer, I'm not getting laid off, they're treating it as a voluntary separation. The HR documentation says that in these cases if the employee is offered a "comparable" position, then the employee is not eligible for any severance pay, etc. So I think they're using that as their basis to try to screw me.

Although I understand that the rules are clear, in my opinion, except for the fact that I'd be holding the same job title, there's nothing "comparable" about the two positions.

I told him I was getting in touch with the legal & HR depts, but I seriously doubt they'll pay attention to what I have to say.

Thoughts?
Thanks!

barnaclebob
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Re: Suing soon to be former employer, do I have a case?

Post by barnaclebob » Fri Jul 14, 2017 9:40 am

First of all, never tell your employer you are becoming adversarial. Showed up late a few times? Surfing the internet? Fired for cause.

Also the companies legal and HR departments are there for the company, not you.

123
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Re: Suing soon to be former employer, do I have a case?

Post by 123 » Fri Jul 14, 2017 9:47 am

Labor regulations vary significantly by state, what state is your current job in?
The closest helping hand is at the end of your own arm.

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dm200
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Re: Suing soon to be former employer, do I have a case?

Post by dm200 » Fri Jul 14, 2017 9:49 am

way lower pay and they want me to cover my travel/moving expenses.
How can that be "comparable"??

Labor regulations vary significantly by state, what state is your current job in?
Very, very true.

ERISA Stone
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Re: Suing soon to be former employer, do I have a case?

Post by ERISA Stone » Fri Jul 14, 2017 10:01 am

Something tells me the legal department is well aware of this strategy.

FullYellowJacket
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Re: Suing soon to be former employer, do I have a case?

Post by FullYellowJacket » Fri Jul 14, 2017 10:12 am

Don't ask us. Contact a local labor lawyer to see if you have a case.

Rupert
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Re: Suing soon to be former employer, do I have a case?

Post by Rupert » Fri Jul 14, 2017 10:23 am

Do not say anything to the legal department or HR. Visit your local EEOC office and/or an employment lawyer as soon as possible.

mouses
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Re: Suing soon to be former employer, do I have a case?

Post by mouses » Fri Jul 14, 2017 10:25 am

Note that if they say you're quitting, that is likely to make you ineligible for unemployment payments.

I wonder how many people in the company are being dealt with this way. If there are others you might consider some group action. Also there may be some state office that enforces labor laws.

Besides what you mentioned, note the cost of selling and buying a house.

FullYellowJacket
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Re: Suing soon to be former employer, do I have a case?

Post by FullYellowJacket » Fri Jul 14, 2017 10:26 am

I swear colleges/high schools need to start offering a mandatory class that COMPANY HR AND LEGAL IS NOT YOUR FRIEND. They are their to protect the company, not you.

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Kenkat
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Re: Suing soon to be former employer, do I have a case?

Post by Kenkat » Fri Jul 14, 2017 10:28 am

Not a comparable position, you likely have a case - get an attorney.

rutrow2015
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Re: Suing soon to be former employer, do I have a case?

Post by rutrow2015 » Fri Jul 14, 2017 10:29 am

Contact a labor attorney immediately. Your company will not let this go to court (because they will generally lose if it goes that far). They have a pain point/ level that they've already determined where they will fight you legally or pay you off - your attorney's job is to find out what that point is.

I think you have a case, but a consultation with a labor attorney in your state will tell you one way or another in about 15 minutes.

neilpilot
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Re: Suing soon to be former employer, do I have a case?

Post by neilpilot » Fri Jul 14, 2017 10:33 am

Be sure you have copies of all recent evaluations and related documents (and emails), safely at home. Also the "HR documentation says that in these cases if the employee is offered a "comparable" position, then the employee is not eligible for any severance pay, etc. ". Also any emails and/or memos related to the mass layoff.

Your access to company documents and emails may suddenly be shutoff without warning.

rutrow2015
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Re: Suing soon to be former employer, do I have a case?

Post by rutrow2015 » Fri Jul 14, 2017 10:34 am

Additional thought - probably one of the first things the attorney will ask - is how many people at your location are being affected by this office closure. If it meets certain criteria your employer would have needed to file a WARN (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification) notice with your state. If they didn't and were supposed to -- oh you have them by the short hairs.

Dottie57
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Re: Suing soon to be former employer, do I have a case?

Post by Dottie57 » Fri Jul 14, 2017 11:00 am

co_investor wrote:I'll try to keep it short.

My employer of over 10 years is closing down our regional offices, we were told we were getting laid off in 30 days.
A few days later, I get an offer to go work in a different location (for the same company), half way across the country, different (terrible schedule), way lower pay and they want me to cover my travel/moving expenses. I thanked them but declined the offer.

Now, my (still) current boss is saying that because I declined their (terrible) offer, I'm not getting laid off, they're treating it as a voluntary separation. The HR documentation says that in these cases if the employee is offered a "comparable" position, then the employee is not eligible for any severance pay, etc. So I think they're using that as their basis to try to screw me.

Although I understand that the rules are clear, in my opinion, except for the fact that I'd be holding the same job title, there's nothing "comparable" about the two positions.

I told him I was getting in touch with the legal & HR depts, but I seriously doubt they'll pay attention to what I have to say.

Thoughts?
Thanks!
The position offered is new as salary and location are different. You were laid off first and then offered a new position in a different location and different salary. See an employment lawyer. Don't fight or get nasty at this time.

My brother was in Same type of situation where laid off, but offered a job in another state doing same work, more money . He declined. Received termination benefits and then unemployment.

cherijoh
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Re: Suing soon to be former employer, do I have a case?

Post by cherijoh » Fri Jul 14, 2017 11:09 am

co_investor wrote:I'll try to keep it short.

My employer of over 10 years is closing down our regional offices, we were told we were getting laid off in 30 days.
A few days later, I get an offer to go work in a different location (for the same company), half way across the country, different (terrible schedule), way lower pay and they want me to cover my travel/moving expenses. I thanked them but declined the offer.

Now, my (still) current boss is saying that because I declined their (terrible) offer, I'm not getting laid off, they're treating it as a voluntary separation. The HR documentation says that in these cases if the employee is offered a "comparable" position, then the employee is not eligible for any severance pay, etc. So I think they're using that as their basis to try to screw me.

Although I understand that the rules are clear, in my opinion, except for the fact that I'd be holding the same job title, there's nothing "comparable" about the two positions.

I told him I was getting in touch with the legal & HR depts, but I seriously doubt they'll pay attention to what I have to say.

Thoughts?
Thanks!
If they were truly offering you an equivalent position, I think your employer would be on safer ground in categorizing it as voluntary if you opted not to move and take the transfer. That doesn't sound like that is the case though. But where the line is between unethical and illegal is hard to say. That is why you should probably consult an attorney.

BTW If the company challenges it, you could have problems collecting unemployment much less a separation package. Are other employees being offered a package with this layoff? FWIW, I doubt they are legally required to offer a separation package, but if they do it most likely has to be administered fairly. So if they have offered a package in the past, but not this time you are probably out of luck.

I was in a somewhat similar situation 10+ years ago when my former employer was selling our site and relocating out of state to another site they owned. But my former employer was a whole lot more generous. I had the option to relocate and keep the same job and same salary or take a separation package on the condition that I stayed until a date that they specified. If I found another job before then, I would sacrifice the package.

But the circumstances were different from yours. They didn't have the space available at the other location immediately since they needed to construct a new building on an existing site. So we knew there would be a delay in shutting down the office (although the length of the delay was unknown at the time the move was announced). I think the main reason that the separation package was offered (or at least was as generous as it was) was to not lose everyone who wasn't relocating before the move. (It would have been difficult to backfill jobs if candidates were told - at some near future date we will be relocating and you will either have to move or be out of a job). But if your office is closing in 30 days that probably isn't a driver.

staythecourse
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Re: Suing soon to be former employer, do I have a case?

Post by staythecourse » Fri Jul 14, 2017 11:11 am

FullYellowJacket wrote:Don't ask us. Contact a local labor lawyer to see if you have a case.
That is the correct answer. No need with threats. It is childish and a waste of time. Not to be lame, but the great part of living in America is there are laws PROTECTING you from being abused. Just contact the right person to see if this fits in or not.

Good luck.

p.s. My guess, unless you are highly paid employee it will likely be cheaper for them to not cause much of a fuss.
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cherijoh
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Re: Suing soon to be former employer, do I have a case?

Post by cherijoh » Fri Jul 14, 2017 11:12 am

rutrow2015 wrote:Additional thought - probably one of the first things the attorney will ask - is how many people at your location are being affected by this office closure. If it meets certain criteria your employer would have needed to file a WARN (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification) notice with your state. If they didn't and were supposed to -- oh you have them by the short hairs.
Yeah in my state it is a minimum of 60 days notice if the layoff and company size meet the criteria.

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Re: Suing soon to be former employer, do I have a case?

Post by prudent » Fri Jul 14, 2017 11:13 am

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