Articles Posted in Reductions in Force

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General Dynamics announced in April 2013 that it planned to lay off 110 employees in Saco, Maine – about one-third of its work force – beginning on June 14, 2013 and continuing through July 1, 2013. Those laid off were to include salaried and hourly-wage employees who were involved in the production of heavy machine guns and auto-grenade launchers as part of General Dynamics’ Armament and Technical Products unit (“GDATP”). The facility in Saco, which already laid off 30 workers last fall, makes large, heavy weapons that are operated by two or more people.

Before the announcement of these lay-offs, according to the Portland Press Herald, the General Dynamics’ plant was awarded a $14.3 million contract extension earlier this year for specialized machine-gun barrel kits being made for the Army. Also, in January, the Saco City Council voted to forgive General Dynamics as much as $100,000 in property taxes over the next six years as part of a tax increment financing package that would allow the company to move forward with an expansion plan.

Despite a legitimate reason to reduce the size of its workforce, an employer may not use a lay-off, or Reduction in Force (“RIF”), as an opportunity to discriminate against disabled employees or others in protected classes. “Even if the employer has a compelling reason wholly unrelated to the disabilities of any of its employees to reduce the size of its work force, this does not entitle it to use the occasion as a convenient opportunity to get rid of its disabled workers. This point is most easily seen by thinking of a RIF as a kind of hiring: the employer has decided to reduce its work force from, say, 100 to 80 employees; this means it has 80 slots to fill and in filling them must choose among 100 ‘applicants.’ The law forbids the employer to disqualify the disabled applicants on the basis of their disability unless the disability prevents them from doing the work even with a reasonable accommodation.” Matthews v. Commonwealth Edison Co., 128 F.3d 1194, 1195 (7th Cir.1997)(Internal citations omitted).