The Immorality of Layoffs


#1

“Layoffs are immoral. To deprive someone of a wage not because he is failing to earn it or because you can no longer afford to pay it but because you have decided that you would prefer not to pay him is robbery.”


#2

Well, companies weren’t always loyal to workers as the article implies

They’re the one’s which drove unions into existence

A century ago, companies who had unions had to follow the contract they signed

Those who didn’t have unions, tried to do what they could to keep unions out.

Today, ,most companies that layoff employees, will give them severance pay.

Also, unemployment eligibility changed which forces company to terminate you, rather than furlough you.

Jim


#3

In the past, and for some in the present, there is loyalty. The other problem is Wall Street. Growth is all they care about. Employees are expensive. Send the work to Mexico or India or China. I think immoral is too strong a word. I think they would say they’re only being practical.


#4

Well, loyalty by employers was subjective.

I learned this when my father took ill back in 1964 and became disabled.

He had worked for a locally owned company for 20 years, before they sold to a larger corporation. He ended up working for the new owners for just four years. So, when he became ill, his pension was only worth four years. In other words, 24 years of working the same job, dissolved when he became sick.

In those days, when a company sold, the employee pensions were gone as well.

LBJ signed a law prohibiting this. Company pension plans had to be funded and transferred to the new employer if the company sold.

If companies had loyalty as you suggest, this would never have been necessary

Such was not the case, unfortunately.

Jim


#5

I disagree. The company I work for, and others known to me, still care about their employees. Buyouts are not the fault of the owners. The law as it was then, was not the fault of the owners.


#6

So when the company sold and the workers pensions were lost, was not the fault of the owners ?

Jim


#7

Being in a management position myself, along with a friend who was, we know the risks. I would like to think employees in the past knew what the story was where they worked. And people in the 1960s did something that regular workers generally don’t do today: they saved. I remember standing in line with my father at the local bank. Everybody we knew put something away for “a rainy day.” And most people had a support network consisting of family and relatives who helped out. We even had neighbors who were like family to us. That was slowly dismantled.


#8

I’d encourage people to at least read the Wikipedia article of this case. The short is that isn’t as nefarious as this guy is making it out to be. While there is some worrying aspects to it, it ultimately is incredibly lax on exactly how someone can fulfill their fiduciary responsibility. If a measure can be twisted into benefiting the corporation and does not violate other laws, you can’t really sue over it.

This holds about as much weight as the claim that taxes are theft.

I’m not really going to delve into specifics of this paragraph (or quote it all), because frankly it is little more than a rather humorous socialist rant. Rather than analyze the issue in any depth, he basically just goes on a brief, multi-tweet rant. The only reason I’m taking any time to discuss it is to encourage reading it just for the laugh factor at how unhinged the guy becomes.

With all that said, I do think that there is an inherently sickening concept to the fact that some people who are making hundreds of millions of dollars seek to cut costs by laying off employees. An unwillingness to self-sacrifice for others is, at the very least, not very Christ-like.

It is possible that what is practical is also immoral.


#9

I would take it on a case by case basis. Sometimes we don’t know people’s hearts. Some employers are very much part of their employees’ lives. Others are distant or have a manager who does their day to day work for them. The actual owner rarely appears. Is he a wealthy jerk or a down to earth person who actually cares about the people working for him? Some owners are indifferent. They are led to believe or convince themselves that the good of the company may include laying off people. That way, they reason, the company stays afloat and the rest of the workers still have a job. It’s easy to look at rich corporate types as just a bunch of selfish and evil people. They have multiple homes, a yacht and so on.


#10

It’s less the motivation and more the fact that most company executives, at least in large corporations, don’t seem willing to sacrifice anything of their own when the company hits hard times. There are, of course, examples of this, but it seems disturbingly rare.


#11

Anyone who thinks the opposite of an active shooter is a passive shooter shouldn’t try to put his opinion out as learned. It should be no surprise he considers fraud, theft and layoff as synonyms, assuming he knows what a synonym is. There are immoral business practices, but layoffs are often a way to stay afloat and keep the other workers in their jobs.

It is hard to discuss something with an article though. It is not like the author can respond.


#12

Technically, an article is a form of offering one’s opinion to a discussion. It isn’t quite the near-real-time discussion we have on forums, but it’s ultimately part of having a discussion and often encourages discussion. A good article does well in contributing to whatever discussion it is putting itself into. This article didn’t do that, though.


#13

Treating hard-working people wrong is ALWAYS immoral.


#14

I don’t quite agree with the article, but it is worth discussing. Btw, I’ve been laid off before. On one level it was humiliating, while on another level it was a nice severance and an escape from a company where I had no future. I have had much worse experiences in industry than a layoff with a nice severance too.

Maybe some will disagree, but, in a way, isn’t it Matthew 26:52…all those who take the sword…

People make a choice (I made a choice) and they know the risks (i.e. a layoff). Eventually, I made different choices in life, but what I’m saying is that the employees are making choices too. They don’t have to work for a company known for frequent layoffs.


#15

The Wikipedia article is pretty interesting. Ford Motor was making a ton of profits, and elected to use the excess capital to increase wages and expand the business instead of paying a special dividend to shareholders. The Dodge brothers were holders of 10% of the Ford stock and they were using their Ford dividends to build up their own rival company. So Ford’s decision to cut dividends also had the effect of withholding capital accumulation by the Dodge’s. But “The Michigan Supreme Court held that Henry Ford could not lower consumer prices and raise employee salaries.”


#16

[quote=“JimG, post:15, topic:535177”]
Ford Motor was making a ton of profits, and elected to use the excess capital to increase wages and expand the business instead of paying a special dividend to shareholders. [/quote]

Ford’s pay raise wasn’t magnanimous . . . they indeed paid twice the then-current automobile wage–but that was about 400% annual turnover. The costs of retraining, and working with barely trained, were huge. This gave ford almost no turnover, and saved it money.

The doge brothers made chassises.

The wikipedia article misses the most significant influence of the case, though. The Dodge brothers were arguing that Ford was acting outside of its corporate purpose in making chassises–which would have been the conventional rule at the time. Allowing ford this latitude fundamentally changed corporations. Today, purposes such as “make money in all lawful manners other than regulated professions” are valid.

hawk, esq.


#17

Talk about begging the question. Wrong is immoral? Yes. Right is good. Effective works, and so on.


#18

That’s a load of you know what. When I owned my business, I thrived for years. Then during the horrific Obama economy, I had to lay everyone off except me. It’s just the way things go. There was nothing immoral about it. I did not rob anyone.


#19

I think that a wise employee will be aware of the possibility of being laid off. In certain fields and professions, lay-offs are a given (e.g., retail, auto, public schools, any middle-management position).

A middle-manager in our church told us that he and other middle managers save half of their salary every paycheck because they know that they will be “let go” every few years. So they plan for it.

Also, all employees should keep up on the company"rumor mill" so we will know that a lay-off is possible.

Most importantly, I think all of us should prepare for a layoff by taking practical steps.

  1. Have an up-to-date resume!

  2. Keep certifications and paperwork up to date and easily-accessible; i.e., not buried in a random mildewed box in the basement

  3. Stay informed about your industry or business, especially what other companies in the area are doing, and be aware of which companies are expanding and might be hiring.

  4. If possible have a part-time “job” on the side. E.g., I play piano/organ, and because of my full-time hospital job, I am not able to accept many offers. But if I were laid off, I would not only accept jobs, but I would call all of the contacts I have and let them know that I have some time off work and would be able to play if they need me.

Even snow shoveling (or leaf-raking) could bring in some cash. Many of us who are older would love to have some young person ring our doorbell (THIS MORNING, PLEASE!) and offer to shovel our snow!

  1. Have a savings buffer! This is probably the most important preparation we can all make. Dave Ramsey blithely suggests six months of living expenses–I think that’s really difficult/impossible/fantasy for most of us, but even a few weeks of living expenses keeps you going.

  2. Pay off debts as quickly as you can and keep good credit so that you can ask a creditor for an extension or for lowered payments.

  3. Keep family feuds resolved! You may need those relatives!

  4. Know how to “eat cheap,” and try to eliminate any addictions (e.g., morning Starbucks!) to avoid withdrawal when you don’t have money to buy your “fix!”

  5. Learn about public transportation and how it works in your town (if you have public transportation) so that you can use it if your car falls apart while you’re laid off.

I hope these tips don’t sound preachy. My husband was let go years ago, and we know how it is–psychologically, it’s devastating. But I think that being aware in advance of the possibility, and taking some practical steps to prepare can help a lot.


#20

I thought about this thread further, and I have a story to tell…

I walked into work one day a long time ago, and my officemate was gone. He was laid off/let go/fired whatever you want to call it. One of my very senior co-workers complained to the managers about his firing. This co-worker basically said he had spent 2 years training my office mate, he had started doing good work, and the company was hiring, so why fire my office mate. My manager’s manager was really mad, and walked around the halls for a couple days saying over and over again…“We have the right to let somebody go”.

The thing is this…of course he has the right to do this. You’ll never find a black and white decision when it comes to layoffs. The more important question is whether the mangers made a “smart” decision. I really think Christians should work to make “smart” decisions in deeply complex situations.

FYI…this was not a good place to work for me. I left soon after this…


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.