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After a layoff, how soon can someone be hired into that position again?
January 31, 2014 8:27 AM   Subscribe

This is a question about Massachusetts employment law. After a company has had a round of layoffs, I'm told there is a length of time they must wait before they can re-fill those same positions with new people. How long is this waiting period?

If you can provide a reference to the appropriate statute, that would be very helpful.

The company in question is mid-sized (~200 employees), if that matters.
posted by Bebo to Law & Government (5 answers total)
 
There is no such limitation at the federal level, provided the rehiring is done in a non-discriminatory fashion (in other words, the rehiring must be compliant with federal anti-discrimination law). I can't find such a limitation at the Massachusetts level either, but that does not mean such a limitation does not exist. I would be surprised an employer was ever prohibited from hiring someone, as Massachusetts is an at-will state.

If you are asking as a person at the company trying to hire someone after a layoff, this is a question for HR, not for Ask Metafilter.

If you are asking as someone who was laid off, an important part to remember is that it doesn't really matter if it's illegal or not for the employer to fill a position. It only matters if you're willing to sue the employer to follow the law. Laws are not self-enforcing, and suing an employer doesn't make you look like an attractive hire.
posted by saeculorum at 8:53 AM on January 31


Ma is an at will state, so even though you were "laid off", the company can fill your position immediately. the only exception would be discrimination. Age, sex, sexual orientation, disability. Some harder to prove than others.
posted by Gungho at 8:56 AM on January 31


I'm not aware of any specific length of time that an employer must wait before hiring people into positions that have been subject to layoffs. There may be one in union contracts, but if we're talking about union contracts pretty much every rule of thumb goes right out the window.

There is, however, some case law about how laid off employees are rehired. In general, the employer needs to be able to come up with some objective, non-discriminatory criteria for deciding which employees to rehire. This is to avoid employers laying everyone off and, say, only hiring back the white employees, or the young employees, or the healthy employees, or the low-wage employees, or whatever. But I'm not aware of any reason an employer can't start rehiring the day after they lay people off.
posted by valkyryn at 9:03 AM on January 31


Is there a collective bargaining agreement in place at this employer and/or was there a unionizing effort going on?
posted by melissasaurus at 9:51 AM on January 31


There is no specific amount of time but the general rule in HR that I've dealt with when a manager wants to lay someone off vs fire them is to ask if they plan on filling the position in the next year.

Managers seem to think that a layoff is somehow easier than firing someone. It isn't, especially if the person is in a protected category and the person hired to backfill is not in that protected category. It usually comes when the manager has been terrible about documenting performance and other issues and then reaches the end of their rope and wants to fire someone for performance that has 5 glowing performance reviews. Or when the person just has personality conflicts and the manager doesn't want to have to actually talk about that they just want the person gone.

(non-union employer, a union contract could very well have a time limit)
posted by magnetsphere at 11:24 AM on January 31


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