Labor: Firing Employees in a High Unemployment Environment

The unemployment rate is hovering at an all time high despite signs in the business sector that things are looking up. Many employers have let employees go over the past several years, either through group or individual lay-offs, and fewer employers are hiring employees to fill job openings.

While a laid off employee might conclude that larger economic factors motivated a termination decision, many have taken steps to sue their former employers, claiming wrongful termination. Labor agencies are reporting a significant increase in employment claims. Earlier this month, the United States Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency charged with investigating employee claims of discrimination, reported that the number of charges of discrimination filed from September 2009 through September 2010 rose by more than 7 percent, compared to the prior year, and are up 21 percent from 2007. For the one-year period ending September 2010, that translates to more than 100,000 additional claims.

Rebecca Torrey

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