Addressing the legal risks associated with a reduction in force (or "RIF") has long been a topic on this blog. In fact, looking in my crystal ball way back in January 2008, I suggested that it would the hot topic before years’ end

Flash forward to the present, and the headlines continue to be dominated by news of layoffs, plant closings, furloughs and bankruptcies. 

One of my friends and professional colleagues in the area, Lori Rittman Clark, has posted her thoughts on RIFs in the For the Defense blog

While there’s nothing particularly ground-breaking (quite simply because there aren’t a lot of new developments in the area), it is a concise and well-rounded summary for employers and HR professional looking to reduce legal risks associated with reductions in force.

What are the issues she suggests reviewing?

  • Potential Applicability of the WARN Act;
  • Disparate Impact Analysis.;
  • Disparate Treatment Analysis; and,
  • Releases.

All are sound subjects for review. The best suggestion should be the most obvious one: Seek legal guidance at the START of a process, rather than the end, to avoid the legal pitfalls that surround RIFs.

In the end, however, there is no magic bullet to eliminating legal risks associated with reductions in force. Each of the items Clark raises may help reduce the legal risks, but even implementing all of the above may not eliminate the risk entirely.