When a company needs to reduce its staff, often for budgeting reasons, it may downsize. This is when the owner decides to let go of a significant number of employees. For instance, a business with 100 employees may decide that 30 need to be let go at once just to make the business profitable.
There are cases after a downsizing where former employees will claim that they were discriminated against. Maybe they are part of a protected class. For example, gender discrimination is illegal. A female worker may claim that she was fired during the downsizing and that it is an example of discrimination because of her inclusion in this class. She claims she was fired because of her gender. If you’re the owner of the company, how can you show that you weren’t actually discriminating against her when deciding who to fire?
Impacting different groups equally
The key is just to show that the downsizing did not impact different groups of people in unequal ways. It impacted all employees equally.
In the example above, it may be as simple as showing that roughly 50% of the 30 employees who were fired were men, while the other 50% were women. This makes it clear that their gender was not being considered when deciding who to let go. The same basic philosophy can apply to other protected classes such as race, age, religion, disability, pregnancy status and much more.
It’s not discrimination when every group is impacted in the same way, and downsizing itself is not inherently illegal. Even so, owners who are facing these accusations need to know what defense options they have at their disposal.