Tech pros displaced by less-experienced workers often face gut-wrenching decisions. Should you swallow your pride and train your replacement, in order to receive severance? Should you protest? Or should you update your resume and leave quietly?
Ultimately, you have to decide what’s in your best interest. But here are some options:
Fight or Flight?
If your company asks you to train your replacement, leverage your valuable expertise to negotiate a better severance package and more favorable terms. Your company may be willing to provide outplacement help, training allowances, references and other perks in exchange for your institutional know-how. Having an attorney review your severance documents may yield additional negotiation tips and strategies.
If you’re not eligible to receive unemployment (if you’re a 1099 contractor, for instance), you may want to leave right away, said Daniel Kotchen, an attorney and partner with Kotchen & Low LLP. Refusing to cooperate may put the kibosh on your employer’s plans, especially if your replacement is woefully under-qualified.
If your job is worth fighting for, crunch some numbers and review your personal ROI with your boss. After all, every worker needs to justify their compensation.
If your company replaces a large group of tech professionals, and you think discrimination played a part in your layoff, band together and share your contact information before everyone scatters, advised John Miano, an attorney and former computer programmer based in Washington D.C.
“Having a large group of displaced workers will make the case more attractive to an attorney,” he said. Plus, speaking up in a collective voice may cause your employer to reconsider, at least temporarily. Employee pressure and negative publicity are presumably behind Disney’s recent decision to cancel its tech worker layoffs.
Once your group is organized, consult a labor attorney. “These are tough cases,” Miano explained. “Lawyers typically look for a side issue as grounds for a lawsuit such as discrimination or violation of state labor laws.”
Avoid making disparaging remarks about your employer in public, since it may cause you to lose your severance and damage your brand. Let your lawyer tell your story.
Your attorney will need information, so try to find out everything you can about your replacements. Note how much experience they have, salaries, possible visa status, and whether they’re being paid by an outside staffing or consulting firm.
“Employers are required to maintain a public access file on foreign visa holders,” Miano said. “The application can tell you who’s supplying the wages and so forth.”
“Some third party firms are engaging in discriminatory hiring practices,” Kotchen added. “Try approaching the supplier about a job and see what happens.”
Let Your Voice Be Heard
If you feel you’ve been discriminated against because of your age or national origin, you can file a complaint with the local labor board or a discrimination charge with the EEOC. Another option is to file a charge with the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices.
Proving discrimination in a court of law can be difficult. Employers are allowed to replace highly paid professionals with workers who make less. But some pros feel obligated to try.