Bumping Rights: How Seniority Impacts Job Layoffs

On Behalf of | Nov 19, 2019 | Employment |

San Jose and the entire Bay Area has seen more than its share of layoffs recently. When job cuts come down at major companies and corporations, they can impact workers on all levels. While employees with seniority and upper-level executives may feel some sort of protection due to their position, years of service, and experience, they are often just as likely to face cuts as anyone else on the payroll. However, there are situations in which letting a senior worker go without attempting to put them in another position could amount to wrongful termination. Known as ‘bumping rights’ it is a controversial practice that only applies in certain cases.

No Bumping Rights In Uber Lay-Offs

The issue of bumping rights came up recently after Uber Technologies announced it would be cutting more than 300 jobs in the Bay Area. The company disclosed its plan to cut 238 people from the payroll in San Francisco and another 62 workers in Palo Alto in an official filing with the state Employment Development Department.

All told, Uber claims it intends to lay off an additional 88 people by the end of 2019 and blamed quarterly losses as the culprit. After successfully launching its IPO this past May, prices have steadily fallen. The day before the layoffs were announced, shares had dropped by nearly 30 percent.

In announcing the job cuts, Uber pointedly stated that in keeping with overall company policies there would be no ‘bumping rights’. This is a practice frequently used among union workers in which more senior employees are given the chance to avoid termination by filling a position previously held by a lower-level worker.

Seniority Alone Does Not Guarantee Job Security

Bumping rights are a common but controversial practice. This can result in a domino effect among workers. Higher-level employees who have more skills and seniority with the company scramble and take jobs that require less skill to avoid termination. While it spares them from being unemployed and provides the security of a steady paycheck, it can be demoralizing for all involved and can end up decreasing the company’s productivity.

Bumping rights may be negotiated in a private employment contract but are more commonly found in collective bargaining agreements made by unions. It acknowledges seniority and in some ways rewards it. For those without a bumping rights clause, they may be surprised to find their years of service and their loyalty to the company worth little when job cuts are made.

Contact Our San Jose Attorneys Today for Help

When companies make job cuts, complex rules and regulations often apply. In some cases, laying-off a senior executive or using one to displace someone in a lower-level position could result in claims of wrongful termination. At the Jachimowicz Law Group, we can advise you on the best course of action in these situations while ensuring your rights and best interests are protected. To schedule a free consultation, call 408-550-1732 or contact our skilled San Jose wrongful termination attorneys online today.