Employee Rights Attorney

Mission Viejo, California

Q: I was laid off after my employer lost a major account. I was the first person to be hired to work on this account, am in good standing with my employer and have been told I will be rehired at the first opportunity.

However, I am upset because two men who were hired long after me have been retained to work on other accounts. I was told off the record by one of the managers that since I am married and my husband makes a good salary, management decided to lay me off and keep the two men.

Of course, I have no way of proving the manager stated this. Do I have any recourse?

A: “Discrimination based on your marital status is illegal. Your challenge is to prove that you were terminated for this improper reason.

“Call the manager who told you about the discrimination and arrange for a witness to listen in on your conversation. Try to get that manager to repeat what he said to you previously.

“Compare your job status with the two men who were retained. How do your performance statistics compare with theirs? Do you have charts from the company comparing sales productivity, especially for the months prior to the layoff?

“Examine the company handbook for layoff policies. Many employer handbooks give priority to longer tenured employees.

“Review your employee file-it’s your legal right-to see if it contains comments about why you were chosen for a layoff. You might arrive at the company unannounced and ask to review your file to reduce the chance that the company would “sanitize” the file.

“Try to determine any differences in formal evaluations that you and the two men received. You might ask them how they were rated on their most recent review. Your case would be strengthened greatly if you were rated higher than they, especially on recent performance reviews.

“If you feel that you have a case for discrimination because the company retained the two men, consider filing a claim with the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

“Be careful not to delay. The statute of limitations expires one year after the date of termination.”