Mass Employee Firings via Zoom:
I have always advised my business clients who were contemplating terminating an employee (or group of employees via a reduction in force) to treat the employee(s) with dignity and respect. I explained that this was important, not just because it was the “right thing to do” from a human perspective, but because I have seen that how a company treats a worker who is on the way out the door could determine whether that person will seek a legal challenge to its business decision.
Most business decisions to terminate an employee are predicated on multifaceted and nuanced factors that are not transparent to the employee. It should be emphasized that I am not referring to those decisions that are based on clearly illegal reasons (i.e., discrimination or retaliation).
When a company terminates an employee without a clear explanation (i.e, justifiable business contraction or reorganization; failure to meet the objective performance benchmarks of the position), many employees will see this as unfair and legally actionable. In a world where most employment is “at will” a company may not believe that there is a need to provide explanation or justification.
But I continue to advise that the one on one exit interview is key to making the employee understand that their service was valued and/or there might be a way for that employee to improve their performance or skills for their next position. I believe this softer landing will diffuse much of the anger and resentment that could propel the employee to pursue litigation.
As the below Forbes article notes, WW’s (formerly known as Weight Watchers) group Zoom firings were the perfect example of how to disrespect loyal employees. Undoubtedly, this could prove bad for brand image, employee morale and could inspire some employees to seek legal recourse, even if ultimately unsuccessful.
This bad decision could be quite costly.
There has been a considerable amount of legislative activity in the last few weeks in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The following is a list of COVID-19 resources, from Federal and New Jersey agencies (and one outside legal publication), that should be helpful in navigating all of this new information. Please do not hesitate to contact Traub Law if you need help understanding your rights or responsibilities during this time.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
Department of Labor (DOL)
Following the recent passage of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) issued a Notice to be posted in a conspicuous place and made accessible to employees regarding emergency paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for childcare. The USDOL also released a Fact Sheet and answers to Frequently Asked Questions. These documents should assist employers with compliance requirements and employees with understanding their benefits and protections.
Employer Fact Sheet: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-employer-paid-leave
Employee Fact Sheet: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-employee-paid-leave
FFCRA: Q and A: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-questions
FFCRA: Notice of Employee Rights for Non-Federal Workers: https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/WHD/posters/FFCRA_Poster_WH1422_Non-Federal.pdf
FFCRA Questions & Answers Regarding Notice: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-poster-questions
Enforcement of FFCRA Violations: DOL has stated that it will not bring enforcement actions against non-complying employers for violations occurring within 30 days of the enactment of the FFCRA (March 18 through April 17, 2020) provided that the employer has made reasonable, good faith efforts to comply with the FFCRA. https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/field-assistance-bulletins/2020-1
Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (the “CARES” Act)
NJ Department of Labor (NJDOL)
NJ Governor Executive Order 107
The above information, as well as the Traub Law website is for informational purposes only, and the information contained on these pages is not offered as legal advice. The material contained on these pages should not be considered a recommendation or an offer to perform services. You should not act upon the basis of any information contained on these pages without obtaining appropriate legal advice from an attorney.
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