HR Management & Compliance

Was It Just a Layoff … Or Was It Age Discrimination?

by Teresa W. Ghali

Companies that undertake reorganizations often face potential liability for lawsuits, including discrimination claims that stem from the reorganizations and associated layoffs. One such claim in California—alleging age discrimination—was able to be disproved by the facts.

As the recent court decision shows, a company that clearly documents the business reasons behind its reorganization decisions and that implements sound, positive business practices before, during, and after any reorganization should defeat unfounded claims of discrimination.

Facts Disprove Age Discrimination Claims

In 2012, Cox® Communications California, LLC, laid off a customer service representative, Catana Webb, who was then 54 years old, along with another employee who was 23, when the company decided to route its California customer service calls (including the calls routed through the San Diego call center where Webb worked) to a national call center. Nearly all of the San Diego call center employees in Webb’s department were laid off over the course of 2012.

Webb sued, alleging that her former employer discriminated against her on the basis of her age when it terminated her from her call center position and refused to hire her for any of the other 50 or so positions she applied for.

Read more details, including how this California employer was able to refute the claim of discrimination