Worried you’ll be laid off? 

If you’re like most people, the thought of losing your job can make you feel like your whole world is falling apart. Keep reading to learn three ways you can protect yourself from being laid off:  

  1. Fulfill your responsibilities

You may be able to protect yourself from a layoff by doing your job and doing it well – so well, that you make yourself indispensable. Don’t slack off, let things slide, or “quiet quit.” Instead, show up early, stay late if necessary, and become the first person management calls when it needs something done. Prove that although your company may be downsizing its workforce, it still needs you to stick around. 

  1. Know your rights 

Under federal law, most employers with 100 or more employees must provide at least 60 calendar days’ advance written notice of a plant closing and mass layoff affecting 50 or more employees at a single site of employment. You may receive 60 days’ severance in lieu of notice. Some local laws require more notice. New York and New Jersey, for example, require 90 days’ notice. 

You also should be aware of antidiscrimination laws that protect you from being singled out for a layoff because of your: 

  • age 
  • race 
  • national origin or ethnicity 
  • gender or gender identity 
  • sexual orientation 
  • disability 
  • complaints about workplace issues (or perhaps the boss, aka Elon Musk) 
  • or any other protected characteristic. 
  1. Have an employment agreement that includes severance pay 

Employers often provide severance pay for “without cause” employment terminations. This means if the company lets you go for any reason, so long as it’s not because you engaged in misconduct, you will receive a certain amount of severance pay and perhaps even employer-paid health insurance continuation.  Be sure your employer also will agree not to contest your application for unemployment benefits.  In New York, you are entitled to receive your full allotment of unemployment benefits if you receive your severance pay at least 30 days after your last day of employment.  

  • The best time to negotiate an employment agreement that provides you with severance in the event of a “without cause” employment termination is when you are hired. So be sure to ask. If that boat has already sailed, you can negotiate a severance agreement later and even after you are laid off, but your chances of receiving severance are slim, unless your company will do everything it can to retain you, or it has a severance policy, or you have a potential claim you can use as leverage. 

The last thing you want to do is worry about your job security. But if you consistently follow these three tips, you may give your employer more reasons to keep you around, or at least pay you severance if the company decides to let you go. 

If you believe you have been singled out for a layoff due to your race, sexual orientation, or other protected characteristic, we’re here to help you.

Start protecting yourself and schedule a Strategy Session with us today. 


If you have been laid off and offered a severance agreement, do not sign it without having an experienced employment attorney review it.

If you are in New Jersey, New York, or Pennsylvania, give us a call at 973.787.8442. 

Please keep in mind that this is general information, not legal advice.  And the law may change at any time.  

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