Was I Laid Off Because of the Pandemic or Discrimination?

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The numbers are staggering. In the last six weeks, approximately 30 million Americans filed for unemployment. Of those, approximately 3.8 million people filed for unemployment in the week of April 20 alone. By now,  some people who have lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic may be wondering if they are victims of the crisis or discrimination.

Explained in its simplest terms, discrimination is wrongful treatment aimed at someone based solely on certain traits or characteristics. These include, but are not limited to, any of the following:

  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Gender
  • Gender Identity
  • Sexual preference
  • Religion
  • Age

In the context of employment, discrimination may be manifested as poor job evaluations, demotion or termination. In any case, it is illegal and needs to be dealt with accordingly.

Sadly, countless reports of workplace discrimination have surfaced since COVID-19 emerged as a public health threat in the United States. In many cases, workers have reported that their peers targeted them because of their race or ethnicity. 

We know you may have questions. For example, how can you tell if your employer discriminated against you when you were laid off? Here are some warning signs, using age discrimination as an example:

  • Most of the employees who were laid off were experienced, older, and earned more than their younger counterparts
  • The business subsequently promoted or hired younger, less experienced, and less expensive employees to take their place
  • People responsible for implementing the workforce reduction commented on specific factors unique to older employees, such as the job experience, age, higher salaries, nearness to retirement, and so forth

In some cases, businesses must give the employees they laid off specific, written information about the workforce reductions. If so, they may yield clues about the motives for the layoffs. Additional investigation may be warranted to see if there is a connection between the layoffs and employee characteristics that you could explore with your employment discrimination attorney.

If you think you were laid off due to discrimination rather than COVID-19, it is important that you contact an employment lawyer as soon as possible. This is because there are strict deadlines for pursuing legal recourse. We are available to  provide any legal advice and guidance you may need by email or phone. Please feel free to contact us at any time, today or in the future.