Federal law prohibits employers from discriminating against employees based on certain protected characteristics. Gender, religion, race, national origin and age for those over 45 are all personal factors that should not influence employment decisions or career possibilities.
People should receive career opportunities based on their skill, education and performance, not factors they have no control over, like age. Unfortunately, despite clear federal laws, there are still some employers who discriminate against their workers for personal characteristics beyond their control.
A company’s owner or human resources manager might assume that women are more likely to take time off of work to care for their children and want to limit how many women move into management as a result. Others might have biases against people of certain skin colors, people with accents or even workers over a certain age. Sometimes, those discriminatory prejudices come to light when the company restructures or downsizes because only certain people lose their jobs.
Large-scale employment changes did not impact one protected group
If there are only a handful of workers at your company from a certain racial group and your employer decides to let all but one of them go as part of a downsizing effort, that could be a warning sign of discrimination. The same is true if all the workers getting close to retirement age were terminated as part of a downsizing effort.
Although the company isn’t likely to publicize the list of who got let go, you can reach out to other workers to see if there’s a pattern to the behavior and if discrimination might have affected the decisions about who got to retain their job and who did not.
Employers never have an excuse to discriminate against their staff
Companies often engage in downsizing when they find themselves facing noteworthy financial issues. However, the need to reduce overhead to keep the company afloat does not justify making discriminatory decisions about who to retain or fire.
If you believe that your protected characteristics influence a decision that cost you your job, you and possibly other co-workers who are victims of the same discriminatory downsizing effort may be able to take legal action against your former employer for their inappropriate behavior and attempt to hide discrimination behind downsizing or restructuring.