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Layoffs could mean busy season for employment lawyers

The rotten economic news hit close to home yesterday as Target and Best Buy each announced hundreds of layoffs. But as employees were packing their belongings, you can bet that attorneys for both companies were keeping an eye on how the layoffs were handled — and that employment lawyers everywhere were looking for a potential way to drum up business in the wake of the cuts.

In a labor and employment law blog maintained by Los Angeles-based firm Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton, attorney Greg S. Labate laid out a number of guidelines for implementing layoffs the correct (that is, legal) way. Some of his tips included:

- Never using an economic-based layoff as an excuse to terminate a problem employee;

- Always getting a written release of all claims against the employer in return for any severance package; and

- Complying with all Federal Older Workers’ Benefit regulations when laying off an employee over 40.

Laying off workers creates a thicket of potential liability issues for employers. The careful ones will avoid them, and sharp-eyed employment lawyers will sniff out the ones who didn’t.

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