When a Manager Fails to Follow the RIF Policy

By Sarah Peace

An employer recently lost a trial on an age discrimination claim arising from a reduction in Force (“RIF”). The employer lost because the manager involved unilaterally failed to follow the company’s policies: First, the employer’s policy gave managers discretion to group and force rank employees, but here the manager attempted to fix a budget shortfall in his division by eliminating a job that was not charged to his budget in the first place. Second, the employer’s policy was to search “every corner of the earth” and “exhaust[] all opportunities to place the individual” before releasing an employee in a RIF, but the manager told the selected employee not to apply for jobs in his former division and he was not selected for multiple alternative positions he applied for, despite evidence of his qualifications. Miller v. Raytheon Co., No. 11-10586 and 11-10988 (5th Cir. May 2, 2013).

It is tough these days to conduct a useful adverse impact analysis, but the business reason for a job elimination has to fit the business facts.