Saturday, February 16, 2008

My Mother Was Laid Off

Here's a little problem I have.

Now, perhaps it's just a coincidence, but about 8 years ago, when my father in law turned 58, he was laid off from Northrop Grumman. You don't want to go through a job search at age 58. Luckily, he found one, however, he now is forced to commute a couple hours of day with a heart condition. He had worked for Northrop, for over 30 years. He helped build the first lunar module, he had a great job and they axed him in the twilight of his career.

Yesterday, my mother, who has worked for the same company for 27 years, was laid off at age 58. She lives alone, and since she was a nurse for many years (i.e. was paid poorly), never really had the chance to save bundles of salary for retirement. Long story short, she needs to find another job as she's not prepared to retire. She was a middle manager in a health care company.

Yet another reason to hate HMOs.

What's with companies doing this? Has some heartless dude figured that after age 58, it just doesn't make financial sense to hold onto these older, well-paid workers? So they axe them and hire younger, cheaper labor? They're not even giving my mother any health care after the end of the month! She's 58! She needs healthcare!

This is a little fresh.

Anyway, I have two requests. Does anyone have any experience with the law in terms of laying people off and severance packages? They're giving her six months pay and that's it. No health, no sick days, just six months and bye-bye. Perhaps that's normal, but after such a long history, and given her circumstances (i.e. age) I feel that's a little rough.

Second, if any of you are sleeping with someone who makes hiring decisions for a health care company based in the NY area, now is the time to do DT a favor.

20 comments:

Denarii said...

DT- the company I know about - you get one of pay per years of service. Min 4 Max 26 and it goes into your retire fund so if you need it to live on, you pay 10% penalty on it. We get the health package of Corba for 18 months. I believe your mother would get that to. The firm offers a job seeking service that I have been told Monster.com is better. So the little I know of your mothers situation - it seems fairly standard.

Dinosaur Trader said...

Thanks Denarii.

What does Min 4 Max 26 mean?

They did offer Cobra, but my experience with Cobra, it's not at all cheaper than regular health insurance.

-DT

Denarii said...

DT - min 4 weeks max 26 weeks -sorry

Denarii said...

Corba could be cheaper. She should be able to get 18 months at the company group rate. Hopefully that is cheaper. Based on the rates I could get- mine would be about 20-30% cheaper.

Dinosaur Trader said...

Denarii,

Thanks. Yeah, that's what they did... one week of pay per year worked, so, 27 weeks.

-DT

Bluedog said...

DT,

Did they articulate why your mom was laid off? Also, was she on a contract or was she a regular employee? While the law does not require companies to retain employees indefinitely, wrongful termination based on age discrimination is actionable.

-BD

Dinosaur Trader said...

BD,

I'm pretty sure they didn't mention age specifically. However, her (new) boss told her she was being paid too much for her position which is odd, because she just got a raise about a year ago.

-DT

TraderCaddy said...

Never practiced employment law but you should read this from the AARP website.
http://www.aarp.org/money/careers/jobloss/a2004-04-28-agediscrimination.html
It doesn't matter if NY is an "at will" state they still can't discriminate on basis of age, etc. There are Federal and I am sure NY laws on the subject.
She needs to see an employment attorney for a consultation (shouldn't cost too much). Does this HMO have a pattern of doing this? Your Mom should know if she was middle management. I believe the Federal Laws allow for recovery of attorney fees from the Employer so the attorney may take it on that basis of that if he believes she has a case. Get an experienced SOB employment attorney.
Talk to a couple of insurance agents about the health insurance. Assuming she has no serious pre-existings and depending on where she lives she could get a policy with about a $5,000 deductable and a $2MM cap for about $300 a month guaranteed for two years. I am only a couple years younger and I pay $240 a month with a $7500 ded.-no lifetime cap but they raise the premimium about 15% per year.

Dinosaur Trader said...

TC,

Thanks a lot. I'll check that out. That's the question I was wondering about, the type of lawyer would we even have to see.

Appreciate it,

-DT

HPT said...

Sorry to hear the bad news. Hope she can find a new job.

Dinosaur Trader said...

Thanks HPT.

I've already started to call her "bag lady" and stuff, just to make her feel better about it.

Actually, I think this will end up being a good opportunity for her. Things like this generally work out in the end. So I hesitate to call it "bad news." We'll just have to see what develops.

-DT

Bluedog said...

DT,

Agree with TC on your mom seeing an employment law specialist. She can go to the NY bar association's website and they have an attorney referral service: http://www.nysba.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Find_a_Lawyer&Template=/CustomSource/LegalInfobyCounty.cfm&cty=lrs.

She should get a few names, make a few calls, and ask for a free initial consultation to assess the case. If it's taken on a contingency fee basis she wouldn't have to front any money. She should also gather all her paperwork together - employee evals, etc. I wonder if they told her they were replacing her, or eliminating the position?.. I don't practice employment law but I have had some experience there.

-BD

Bluedog said...

PS, if your mom wants to move to Sacramento I have connections with Sutter Heath. ;)

Bluedog said...

Sorry for the 3x post, but it's also worth mentioning that there are strict timelines (federal and state administrative time limits and statute of limitations for lawsuits) in which your mom has to take action. If she fails to do so within the time limits, her claim can be barred. So she should get on it now -talking to an employment law attorney - to decide whether she has a claim.

TC's link indicates an EEOC claim should be filed w/in 180 days of the layoff, for instance.

-BD

Reese said...

DT,
Very sorry to hear of your mother's misfortune. If she doesn't want to pursue the COBRA option (which can be quite expense depending on how much of her insurance expenses her previous company previously picked up), then she can look into temporary health insurance. There are many sites on the net that will allow her to do a quick search and build the plan, check the price/restrictions etc before purchasing. She'll have to weigh that against COBRA, and being 58, it might be cheaper to stay with COBRA a few months. Not sure what company she worked for, or what she specifically did, but there are several health insurance companies that are always looking for employees with nursing backgrounds. One that comes to mind is United Health Care. They aren't the best, but they certainly are one of the biggest and I know a lot of their nurses work from home. They stay on call a lot and receive phone calls from customers etc.
Sorry I can't offer up much more since I'm in a different industry, but she can certainly try www.indeed.com in her job search. They query a ton of job sites.

As a side note, with the option of COBRA, I don't think she'll be able to get state benefits, but that's just a guess. Now might be the time to ask the state for some temporary help (unemployment benefits) as a little payback for the absurd taxes she's paid over the years. :)

Dinosaur Trader said...

BD,

Thanks for those links. Employment lawyers, who knew? But unfortunately, necessary.

I don't think Sacramento is in her future. She has "nice neighbors" which means she'll stay where she is forever.

-DT

Dinosaur Trader said...

Reese,

Absolutely. I mentioned the unemployment insurance immediately. It's one of those things you (have no choice but to) pay for and hope you never need. However, for now, it's definitely something to think about.

Thanks also for the info about COBRA.

-DT

LP said...

Cobra is too damn expensive. You can get much cheaper rates through the net.

Also, I hope she did not sign any papers before she left. They seem to steal your soul on the dotted line. The mere fact that she will seek an attorney will make them reconsider the meager options they've laid out. Also, keep in mind that they will threaten to give her nothing if she sues. That's all bs. That being said, seek advice from a great lawyer.

If she has still maintained her nursing background, she will not have much of a problem getting a job as a supervisor in a hospital. Hell they are importing labor for that these days. So I guess a hospital could be best for pay, benefits and less discrimination.

"God Bless America and no place else" Brian Lewis (Head of State). Out with the old and in with the newer cheaper stuff.

Dinosaur Trader said...

LP,

Yeah, my Mom isn't a pushover so while they wanted her to sign, she wouldn't.

She told me her boss said to her "look, you won't be able to understand all this legal jargon, so just sign it." She said she'd get someone to help her understand it and then sign it.

HAHA!

-DT

LP said...

That must be where you get your smarts from.