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Are some hospitality layoffs being mislabeled?

On Behalf of | Aug 27, 2021 | Employment Law |

The pandemic knocked every industry off course in early 2020, from toilet paper supply chains to restaurant lockdowns to nursing home procedures. Shifting to work-from-home, reallocating resources or improvising new systems has worked for many, but the sudden change of plans left a huge economic hole across the state. And, for those in travel or hospitality, it was an especially large hole.

Financial need or something else?

Everybody wants businesses to survive hard times. Whether you’re a manager, an hourly employee or a neighborhood customer, you understand the sacrifice of the past year and that nobody planned for this scenario.

To stay afloat, many companies resort to layoffs. Some were temporary, just to keep the lights on. Others turned out to be permanent. But growing evidence suggests that many businesses did not lay off workers in good faith, but for other purposes.

Hospitality is a $100 billion industry with 1.5 million workers in the state. The impact of shutdowns was very real and there are still fewer workers today than there were in pre-pandemic times.

While businesses had a need to cut expenses, some may have used budgetary concerns as a coverup for illegal terminations based on other reasons. Earlier this month, a group of displaced hotel workers filed a lawsuit in New York alleging age discrimination. The hotel laid off its older staff and, upon reopening, started anew with younger, cheaper labor. While this example comes from New York, it’s a universal concern in all corners of the workforce.

Workers have protections

A worker’s age cannot affect their employment status or opportunity – it’s a federal law. A chaotic situation does not excuse illegal behavior. Everybody has the right to earn a living. If a termination feels unjustified, deeper digging may prove that fact and expose suspicions patterns, as in New York. Holding a company accountable is not only financially rewarding, but it also helps establish precedent to keep employers from doing it again.

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