Getting laid off can be enormously disappointing and stressful – particularly during the holidays. However, because Michigan companies often adjust their resources and budgets right before and after a new year, this is when many decide to lay off a portion of their workers.
If you are worried about potential or recent layoffs, you should know about the protections you have and what you can do in light of this difficult situation.
Legal protections for workers
While employers can generally let at-will employees go for any or no reason, terminations must be lawful. This includes layoffs. For instance, company layoffs must:
- Comply with the federal Worker Adjustment and Retaining Notification (WARN) Act, which requires certain employers to provide notice of mass layoffs in writing at least 60 days in advance
- Not be a means of retaliating against an employee or group of employees who engaged in protected activities
- Be fair and not discriminatory
Further, it can be crucial to consult any handbook or contract you may have in place that sets rules for layoffs. If an employer does not follow those rules, you may have grounds for legal action.
What to do after a layoff
Protecting yourself and your future after a layoff can mean refraining from signing any agreement, like severance agreements. Review these and consider doing so with an attorney to ensure it is fair. Taking your time also gives you an opportunity to negotiate for more favorable terms.
You will also want to be sure you collect a final paycheck, which may or may not include banked vacation/PTO time. Check your handbook to determine how your employer treats those hours and other fringe benefits.
Requesting a layoff letter can also be wise. This letter provides evidence that the termination was not your fault, which can be valuable for prospective employees to see.
Further, think carefully before sharing negative emotions or statements toward your previous employer online. These posts can come back to haunt you if you ever wind up in court with that employer or when a prospective employer is looking at your online presence before extending a job offer.
Layoffs are undoubtedly disruptive for any affected employees. Knowing your rights and what to do in the aftermath can help you get back on your feet.