What Is Recessionary Discrimination?

Various economic factors indicate a recession is on the horizon. Employers throughout the country may thus need to layoff employees to avoid financial hardship.

Unfortunately, some employers use a recession as an excuse to fire employees for illegal reasons. They may be guilty of “recessionary discrimination” when doing so.

What Is Recessionary Discrimination?

Federal law (as well as individual state laws) prohibit firing employees on the basis of such factors as:

  • Sex/gender
  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Age
  • Disability
  • Religion
  • Etc.

Nevertheless, some employers do account for such factors when deciding whether to let certain workers go. It’s also not uncommon for an employer to cite a legally justified reason for firing an employee when engaging in discrimination. For instance, rather than admitting they let an employee go because of their sexual orientation, an employer might claim firing a worker was an economic necessity due to a recession.

How Does Recessionary Discrimination Relate to My Rights as an Employee?

Again, both federal and state laws define the traits an employer may not account for when making hiring and firing choices. If you believe you’ve been the victim of discrimination, consider meeting with an employee rights expert in your state who can explain whether you have grounds to take legal action.

Employers may commit recessionary discrimination for numerous reasons. Examples include (but are not limited to):

  • Wishing to fire a disabled employee so they no longer need to make accommodations for them
  • Wanting to preserve a racially homogenous workforce
  • Believing an older employee is no longer competent

What’s important to remember is that an employer is unlikely to openly admit that they’ve discriminated against a worker when justifying a layoff. For example, if an employer engaging in recessionary discrimination unlawfully fired a worker due to their age, along with claiming the recession forced their hand, they might also suggest the fired employee’s performance had suffered in recent years. Such claims might not actually represent the truth.

How Does Recessionary Discrimination Relate to My Rights as an Employee?

You don’t need to accept your employer’s decision if you believe they engaged in recessionary discrimination when firing you. Even when the recession is over, there are steps you can take to remedy the issue if an employer fires you for illegal reasons. They are:

  • Gathering evidence of discrimination in the workplace (such as emails, chat logs, etc.)
  • Formally reporting your concerns to your employer
  • Filing a claim with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
  • Hiring an employee rights attorney

That last point is important. Showing that discriminatory attitudes motivated an employer’s layoff decisions can be difficult if you lack experience in these matters.

Fortunately, this isn’t a task you need to handle on your own. A qualified employee rights lawyer may be able to help you build a strong case. With their assistance, you could potentially secure financial compensation, and may even get your job back.

Most critically, don’t assume your job is safe with a recession looming. Difficult economic circumstances may give an unscrupulous employer the justification they desire to let you go for unlawful reasons. If this happens, an attorney may help you address their misconduct.

Get Help With Your Discrimination Claim

If you have any reason to suspect you’ve been the victim of workplace discrimination, meet with an attorney. Be aware, research indicates some groups feel the pain of layoffs more severely than others during a recession.

If you believe you were a victim of recessionary discrimination, complete the Free Case Evaluation on this page to get in touch with an independent, participating attorney who subscribes to the website.

Types of Recessionary Discrimination: