Is there anything we can do to stop this?

I work in small notebook factory and for years they have been laying off by seniority in the company. Now they want to lay off by a point sysyem,how many machines you can operate,I don't think this is fair.Can they lawfully do this? We are not union.I've been there for 26 years,and was layed off for three weeks.Doesn't seniority mean anything in the work force?

1 answer  |  asked Sep 7, 2002 08:41 AM [EST]  |  applies to New York

Answers (1)

David M. Lira
Does Seniority Mean Anything

Employees in New York State gain nothing from seniority. And there is no law in New York State requiring employers to base decisions on seniority.

However, employers seem to rely on seniority a lot, even though technically not required to do so. Why? Because it is easy to determine and use. It also carries with it a sense of fairness. Other systems just seem prone to abuse or arbitrariness.

For economic reasons, an employer may want to seem to be fair, but as a matter of law, in New York, employers don't have to be fair.

Seniority systems become binding only in two circumstances: where there is a union, and in the civil service. Where there is a union, seniority becomes binding because of the collective bargaining agreement. Technically, unions do not have to seek a seniority system when they bargain for their members, but I don't recall ever seeing a union contract that didn't have something about seniority in it.

In the civil service, applicable laws make seniority a concern, either directly or indirectly.

In you situation, even though the employer has long used a seniority system, there is nothing in the law preventing the employer from dropping the seniority system.

If the new system is being used to get back at employees for protected reasons, such age age, race, sex, etc., then the affected employees might have a claim of discrimination based on the employer's actual motivation, but, again, not for simply dropping the seniority system.

posted by David M. Lira  |  Sep 9, 2002 3:49 PM [EST]

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