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December 2022 Layoffs, Recession and Severance Tips

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By Mark Carey

If you got recently “Scrooged” in December, you are not alone.  Companies engage in more terminations in December and January than any other time during the year, according to a WSJ article, Why Companies Do Layoffs Around Christmas.  Many companies have been gut punching employees such as PepsiCo, Amazon, Salesforce, Meta, Ford Motor, Twitter, Protocol, HP, Cisco, Microsoft and today Goldman Sachs just announced plans to lay off thousands and cut bonuses, ouch! According to the website Layoffs.fyi, 979 tech companies have laid off 151,648 employees in 2022 and 89 companies laid off employees in December alone.  If you want to get real time data, go to thelayoff.com for discussion boards about every company.  

Are we there yet? I mean the recession. It sure feels like it, but the Federal Reserve disagrees for now, Chairman Powell said this week, “I don’t think it would qualify as a recession…because you’ve got positive growth”.  In October 2022, the Conference Board predicted a “96% likelihood of a recession in the US within the next 12 months” and a recession starting before the end of 2022.  From the onslaught of layoffs and the number of calls to our offices, it appears they were correct.  For comparison purposes, the Conference Board predicted the 2020 recession with the same 96% likelihood.  Scary!

I have been practicing employment law my entire career, since 1997, and I can smell an economic downturn on the horizon. Layoffs can be an economic lead indicator, and that is what our firm is seeing right now.  I have represented employees through the Dotcom Bust of 2001, the 2008 Great Recession and now we are handling clients given severance packages from the major firms above but also small and midsize companies. Let’s call this the “Scrooged Recession” because no one else wants to.

If you have unfortunately been laid off in this new recession, as I predicted back in July 2022 with an article captioned What’s In Your Severance Negotiation Plan When the Recession Hits?, how do you handle the severance agreement you have been given. As I previously stated, “[y]ou are not required to tell the employer you have an employment lawyer. I actually suggest you don’t and keep the company wondering, while at the same time you continue to negotiate directly with the company. You can hint you have an employment attorney in the background…” As a holiday gift to the recently departed/severed, I have done all the homework for you and placed all the information you need in our blog post (HERE and HERE) or our Employee Survival Guide Podcast (3rd Season).  Enjoy the freemium!

I mean it when I say you can do your own severance negotiation without an employment attorney, bluffing your way- faking it until you make it as an attorney colleague used to tell me. Recently, I was at the store and bumped into an old client.  He announced that he was recently laid off and I suggested he bluff his employer by intimating he had an employment attorney in the background. The former client was familiar with the notarized EEOC Affidavit format he had used before which set forth a caption of “him vs. the employer”. The affidavit laid out age discrimination facts, as my friend was familiar with this type of claim having been fired for age discrimination previously, he was only 52 at the time.  Recently, I got an email out of the blue and my friend said the tactic worked and he received 10x of what the employer originally offered, which was just a few weeks of severance pay.  

If you want a pdf copy of the EEOC Affidavit template, send me an email and I will send it to you- for free!  If you need an employment attorney, please do not hesitate to contact us at Carey & Associates, P.C.  HERE!