Monday, December 22, 2008
Can employers target singles or people "without families" for layoff? Man offers himself to RIF to save coworkers family
ABC “Good Morning America” had a “Christmas” story this morning (Monday, Dec. 22) in which a man apparently offered himself to be laid off to spare the job of a coworker with a large family, including an autistic son.
Generally most corporations say that layoffs are done in an impersonal way, with no consideration of family circumstances. This requirement is driven by non-discrimination laws in many localities.
Back in 1975, a friend of mine was laid off from a job as a private school teacher in Brooklyn, New York. This took place during a time of recession and a severe local financial crisis for New York City. His boss told him, “I’m going to be very honest with you. You’re single. You can afford to be without a job. But some of my other teachers can’t because they have families.” But employers probably can’t do that today.
GMA has a video link (posted about two hours after the broadcast airing on the East Coast) for the story called “A Christmas Thank You” here. The details seem to be that Ralph Hannahan stepped forward and offered to be laid off from the (apparently private) South Carolina Governor’s School in Greenville, SC to save the job of his coworker. ABC News invited Ralph to be on the show after receiving a letter about the event.
Back in 1988, I decided not to “compete” with others to stay at a job (and try to get paid off with an “incentive to stay” and eventual severance) in Dallas after a merger when I did find another job, at somewhat lower pay, on the East Coast. This was not generosity so much as a feeling that I did not want to “stretch my luck.” But it was a sad departure.
Armstrong Williams has a commentary on p A19 of the Dec. 22, 2008 Washington Times, "The right example: some firms place family first," link here, about a law firm that offered new fathers four extra weeks paid vacation. Of course, it's been mentioned here before that many other western countries have some form of mandatory paid parental leave policy. But, then again, the non-parents (or childless) must eventually subsidize this.