Toward an American Law of Redundancy

Comparative Labour and Social Security Law Review, vol. 2, 16 (2017)

U Denver Legal Studies Research Paper No. 17-37

9 Pages Posted: 24 Oct 2017  

Rachel S. Arnow-Richman

University of Denver Sturm College of Law

Date Written: October 24, 2017

Abstract

Unlike other Western countries, the U.S. lacks a “law of layoffs” – a coherent set of doctrines applicable to workers terminated for economic reasons. This essay, written for the University of Bourdeaux’s Comparative Labour & Social Security Law Review’s symposium on redundancy, considers this absence from an historical perspective. It argues that contemporary wrongful discharge law is rooted in the stable employment practices of the post-war era, during which the risk of precipitous termination was equated with hostile employer motive. In a globalized world, in which life-cycle employment has been discarded, such concerns are not nearly as pressing as those resulting from widespread economic dislocation. Yet American employment law has yet to evolve to reflect this change. The essay urges lawmakers to capitalize on President Donald Trump’s rhetorical position on preserving American jobs to develop a realistic set of policies supporting economically terminated workers. A first step would be revamping the federal Worker Adjustment & Retraining Notification (WARN) Act to expand coverage, narrow exceptions, and provide severance as an alternative to notice in situations where workers are fired through no fault of their own.

Suggested Citation

Arnow-Richman, Rachel S., Toward an American Law of Redundancy (October 24, 2017). Comparative Labour and Social Security Law Review, vol. 2, 16 (2017); U Denver Legal Studies Research Paper No. 17-37. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3058290

Rachel S. Arnow-Richman (Contact Author)

University of Denver Sturm College of Law ( email )

2255 East Evans Avenue
Denver, CO 80208
United States
303-871-6264 (Phone)

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