Of Layoffs and Lawsuits


In a previous Tips column we wrote about how difficult it is for an older lawyer who has been terminated by a law firm to prove that age discrimination was the reason. The Supreme Court's decision in Gross v. FBL Financial Services, Inc. raised the bar for plaintiffs to prove a discrimination claim, and law firms have great latitude in evaluating when an older lawyer's performance has diminished to the point where termination is justified.

Nevertheless, law firms are not exempt from the legal requirements to operate a workplace free from discrimination. That means ensuring that characteristics other than an individual's skills, experience and knowledge do not become factors in making employment decisions - including downgrades, layoffs and terminations. However, firms that are subjective and personalized in employment decisions more arbitrary than the law allows can face legal snares.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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