June 3, 2023

Volume XIII, Number 154


June 02, 2023

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis

June 01, 2023

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis

May 31, 2023

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis

Email Layoffs from the Employment Litigator’s Lens

With the market continuing on its roller coaster trajectory, many employers have been forced to make big cuts to payroll. When doing so, employers must think about a number of things, between final paychecks, vacation time, and other benefits.  It is no small feat.  And, in the remote world, more than ever, employers must consider how to lay off employees and the associated legal risks.

In the last few years employers have increasingly taken advantage of the remote aspect of work to provide layoff notifications via email. While traditionally done in person, the email notice method may allow employers to avoid an awkward conversation and otherwise seems easy and hassle-free. But employees have overwhelmingly indicated this approach is too impersonal and leaves them with a sense that the employer just doesn’t care.

Criticism from affected employees has made clear that while difficult, they appreciate a layoff conversation with their manager, even if by Zoom, and some compassion and sympathy.  While it seems that many employees would prefer to meet in-person for such a conversation, there appears to be an understanding that this is not always possible. The point is that a conversation is preferable to an impersonalized email (especially considering the employee may not even see the email before realizing that they have been locked out of company systems).  It may also mean the different between an antagonized employee more likely to move forward with a threatened lawsuit and one who moves forward amicably. 

To help mitigate reputational damage and the likelihood of legal challenges, employers should consider taking a step back and carefully planning out layoff conversations. A simple face-to-face conversation may end up providing the closure an employee needs.

A lot of workers losing jobs right now are getting the bad news via their inboxes.


©1994-2023 Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C. All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume XIII, Number 86

About this Author

Paul Huston, Mintz Levin, Wage & Hour Employment Litigation & Arbitration Discrimination & Harassment Employee Mobility & Trade Secrets Employment Counseling and Training Complex Commercial Litigation

Paul Huston is an attorney in the firm’s employment labor and benefits practice group. His practice focuses on labor and employment litigation and general commercial litigation. Paul has a wide range of experience handling both single plaintiff and class action lawsuits, covering issues from wrongful termination, sexual harassment, and disability discrimination, to wage and hour class actions involving thousands of class members. Paul also has significant experience in contract formation and defense, including independent contractor agreements, arbitration agreements,...


Danielle represents clients in employment disputes and investigations. 

Prior to joining Mintz, Danielle was an associate with a Washington, DC law firm dedicated to employment law. Managing a docket of 30 to 40 clients in plaintiffs’ federal and private sector employment matters, she regularly prepared and filed complaints before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), assisted clients in investigations, responded to proposed disciplinary actions, drafted complaints of discrimination, and advocated for clients at mediations and settlement conferences — successfully...