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Down And Out

Deny a pink-slipped manager a chance to be "bumped down," and you could get in trouble.

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This story appears in the September 2000 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Are you in the midst of layoffs and have a manager who isn't cutting it? It may be time for him to go; before he does, check with your lawyer to prevent a possible lawsuit. Legally, it might be better to bump that employee down to another position. A recent age-discrimination case has added another ruling that could hurt employers. Firing a senior employee and hiring a younger person for a lower-level job without offering it to the pink-slipped exec could spell trouble for you.

"The message and the lesson learned in these cases is that employers should not be making decisions based on age," says Joseph Sellers, head of the civil rights practice at the Washington, DC, law firm of Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll. No longer does it take an outright discrimination case for the courts to rule against an employer. Warns Sellers, "The courts have become very sophisticated in looking at certain circumstances and recognizing discrimination, even if it's only inferred."

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