Legal

Can You Have a One-Person Reduction-in-Force?

By Jon Hyman

Feb. 18, 2014

Yesterday’s New York Daily News ran the following headline: “Long Island man, 76, sues company for age discrimination after ‘workforce reduction’ of one man.” The article suggests that there is something nefarious or underhanded about a layoff of one.

In reality, provided the layoff is bona fide, the number of people included is irrelevant. What is a bona fide layoff? According to one Ohio court:

In determining whether a valid work force reduction occurred, the key inquiry is whether or not the employer replaced the plaintiff. If an employer did not replace the plaintiff, but rather consolidated jobs in order to eliminate excess worker capacity, then a work force reduction took place.

In other words, it’s not a question of quantity, but one of quality. It does not make a difference if the layoff includes one employee or 100 employees, provided that those eliminated are not replaced.

This distinction is not one without a difference. Whether a job loss qualifies as a reduction-in-force matters. Workforce reductions require plaintiffs to come forward with additional evidence (direct, circumstantial, or statistical) to support an inference of age discrimination. Otherwise, the employer’s legitimate non-discriminatory reason (the economic necessity for the layoffs) will carry the day.

So, New York Daily News, I take issue with your headline. Yes, it is perfectly legal to have a one-person layoff, provided it is bona fide, and not a subterfuge to hire younger.

Jon Hyman is a partner in the Labor & Employment group of Kohrman Jackson & Krantz. Comment below or email editors@workforce.com.  For more information, contact Hyman at (216) 736-7226 or jth@kjk.com. Follow Hyman on Twitter at @jonhyman.

Jon Hyman is a partner in the Employment & Labor practice at Wickens Herzer Panza. Contact Hyman at JHyman@Wickenslaw.com.

About Workforce.com

blog workforce

We build robust scheduling & attendance software for businesses with 500+ frontline workers. With custom BI reporting and demand-driven scheduling, we help our customers reduce labor spend and increase profitability across their business. It's as simple as that.

Book a call
See the software

Related Articles

workforce blog

Compliance

Minimum Wage by State in 2022 – All You Need to Know

Summary The federal minimum wage rate is $7.25, but the rate is higher in 30 states, along with Washing...

federal law, minimum wage, pay rates, state law, wage law compliance

workforce blog

Legal

California’s push for a 32-hour workweek explained, and how to prepare

Summary: California is considering a 32-hour workweek bill for businesses with over 500 staff 4 day wee...

32 hour workweek, 4 day workweek, california, legislature, overtime

workforce blog

Legal

A business owner’s guide to restaurant tipping law

Business owners in the restaurant industry are in a unique position when it comes to employee tips. As ...

restaurants, tip laws, tipping