Prepare for your life after the Cleveland Philips Layoff

Philips' Planned Layoffs

This website is not affiliated with Philips Healthcare.  Philips has recently announced its plan to end manufacturing operations in Cleveland, Ohio.  This announcement comes at the same time the company announced plans to move certain operations to a new facility while moving others to Cambridge from another North America location.  Employees in the Cleveland-area Highland Heights location will soon find out what their future with the company holds. For many employees, that will involve finding a new job or relocating.  A recent article stated it was unclear whether workers would be laid-off, but noted manufacturing would end.

Dealing With Uncertainty

A layoff, plant shutdown, or site closing can cause anxiety and fear. Is your severance agreement fair? What happens to your 401(k)? What about your work Visa? When do you have to get new health insurance? Do you keep your life insurance? How do you handle your bills without the income? Information on these topics are available on this website.  Check out the menu at the top of this page.  Local service providers are available to help you plan for life after a Philips layoff, plant closing, or shutdown.

This Website is Brought to You by Myers Law

Since November 2011, attorney Dan Myers has been an advocate for Cleveland, Ohio employees and has helped workers protect their rights both in and out of the courtroom.  Dan has been selected to the SuperLawyers Rising Star list in 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2018.  Dan has advised workers about whether their their former employer's severance agreements are fair, whether their non-compete agreements are enforceable, and has taken on multi-billion dollar companies in litigation when necessary to protect his clients.

Cleveland, Ohio - Layoff / Plant Closing Information

Your Rights in a Mass-Layoff or Site Closing

When a plant closing or mass layoff (Reduction in Force, aka RIF) occurs, large employers, like Philips, may be required to give advance warning to their employees. This is because of a Federal law called the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN Act).  

If a company is closing a plant, or site, or even just one or more units in that site, and that closing will result in 50 or more people losing their job during a 30-day (or sometimes 90-day) period, the employer may be required to give advance warning and notice.

The same is usually true if a company is not closing a site, but will be laying off more than 500 workers during a 30-day (or 90-day) period, or even as few as 50 people if that represents 1/3 of its workforce. Whether advance notice needs to be given depends on the specific situation, duration of layoffs, reason for layoffs, and timing of layoffs, among other things.

If your employer is required to provide notice under the WARN Act, and if none of the statute's exemptions apply, your employer must give you at least 60-days advance written notice of your termination. This does not apply to every employee or every employer, so it is critical to speak with an attorney about whether this law might apply to you.

If you are in a union, your union should receive your notice.  If you do not have a union, you will receive notice directly.  The employer must also inform the State and local government with advance written notice, as well.

If an employer must give you notice, and fails to give you the full 60-day notice when required, you are entitled to full backpay and benefits for the number of days short of 60 that you didn't have notice.  For example, if you are only given 20-days notice before being terminated, and if none of the statute's exceptions apply, you would be entitled to 40 days of wages and benefits as if you had worked the 60 days.  Employers can make voluntary payments to an employee and get a credit against their liability in some situations.

Workers can also file class actions to get compensation for the wages, benefits, and attorney's fees owed to them.  If you believe you were not provided legally required advance warning of your layoff, you should contact an attorney immediately to determine whether the WARN Act applied to you.

For more general information on the WARN Act, check out the Department of Labor Fact Sheet.

COBRA Health Insurance Continuation Coverage

When you are terminated from your employment, Federal law may allow you to continue your health insurance coverage through COBRA continuation coverage.  If you are allowed to elect COBRA continuation coverage upon termination, you are generally given 60 days to decide whether you want to continue your current health insurance coverage.

If you decide to continue coverage, you will be required to pay 102% of the premium.  Workers electing COBRA coverage will generally see an increase in their premium costs because of this.

If you are considering electing COBRA coverage, or are looking for other coverage for you or your family, consider contacting a local health insurance agent to work with you and determine the best route for your family's financial and medical well-being.

For more information about COBRA continuation coverage, check out this Department of Labor Fact Sheet.

If you would like to speak to a health insurance agent to help you determine what health insurance options are available to you, or whether you should go with COBRA or individual/supplemental plans, you should contact one immediately.  We may be able to get you in touch with someone who has helped some of our clients in the past.

Discrimination Protections

Generally, if you are an employee in Ohio, you are considered at-will, meaning that you can be fired at any time, with or without notice, for any reason or no reason at all.  Of course, you can quit under the same circumstances, but that is little actual comfort for employees.  There are exceptions to this at-will employment status, which may or may not apply to you.

If you have a written contract for your job, or you are in a union (and therefore have a collective bargaining agreement), you are probably not at-will.  Your employer will need to comply with the requirements or causes in your contract to terminate you legally.

Similarly, there are laws that limit the reasons employers can cite to when firing employees.  For many employers in the State of Ohio, it is illegal to fire someone based on their race, sex, disability, religion, national origin, pregnancy, or age (if they are 40 years old or older).  People who are classified in this way are members of a "protected class," and Ohio and some Federal laws make it illegal for employers to use these criteria as a reason to terminate someone.

If you believe you have been targeted or treated unfairly due to your race, sex, age (over 40 years old), disability, or other listed characteristic, you should contact an attorney immediately.  Sometimes you only have a matter of days, a year, or occasionally longer, to bring a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which is sometimes necessary before bringing your claims in court.

Remember, if you are at-will, your employer does not need a good reason to fire you, or any reason, at all.  But if they have one, it can't violate the law.

Often, larger employers will offer employees a severance agreement, or other form promising payment in exchange for the employee waiving their rights to later bring a claim for any discrimination.  When the employee is over the age of 40, and the employer wants them to waive age discrimination claims, there is special language needed in the agreement.  If you would like someone to look over your agreement and look into your termination to see if the agreement is fair or not, you should contact an attorney immediately, because you may only have as little as three weeks to decide what to do.

Dealing with Non-Compete Agreements

Many employers now require their employees to sign non-compete and non-disclosure agreements as a condition of keeping their job.  It is possible that you signed one when you first started at your company, or later during employment, or you may be asked to sign one as a condition of getting a severance package.  Before you sign any agreement, it is critical to go over it with an attorney, like those at Myers Law, LLC, so that you know what you can and cannot do.

If you previously signed one, it is also essential to go through that agreement with an attorney so that you can plan your next career move.  Sometimes, these agreements prohibit you from working in the same field, or with the same customers, or in the same state or region of your current or soon-to-be ex-employer.  Violating these agreements can lead to economic and financial ruin, as well as court orders extending the duration of the non-compete, which may make it impossible to make a living in the field you know best.

While these sorts of agreements are disfavored by the courts, they are often enforceable, at least in Ohio.  Courts like to see a limited agreement, one limited in duration, scope, geographic area, and otherwise.  When the non-compete agreement is limited, the court is far more likely to enforce it.  The goal isn't to violate it and ask for forgiveness later--you need to get the guidance an attorney can provide about whether the agreement is enforceable or not, and what it may or may not prevent you from doing in your next job.  You should do this before you take that next job, because, at that point, it may be too late.

If you believe you previously signed a non-compete agreement, or you are being asked to sign one now, contact an attorney at Myers Law, LLC to set up an appointment to discuss and weigh your options.

Finding a New Job

If you find yourself looking for a new job after a layoff, there are some practical pointers you should follow to impress future employers and set yourself apart (in a positive manner).

First, take the time to format an easy to read, succinct one page resume.  Unless you are applying for an expert professional position that would normally expect and require a full Curriculum Vitae (CV), you should constrain yourself to one-page, so that the business will take the time to review it and see the key details about you.  Make sure you do not have spelling mistkaes (that mistake was on purpose), and make sure your work duties and descriptions are active, and quantifiable.  It is better to say "I modified our manufacturing procedures and created $____ in labor costs savings," than it is to say "instrumental in procedural revisions resulting in labor savings."  If you did it, take credit for it.

Second, look for the keywords in the job posting that you are apply for, and use those same keywords in your resume, cover letter, or other submissions.  Some companies use software to weed through initial submissions of resumes, and they kick out applications that do not include specific words describing characteristics they are looking for.

Third, always contact your social, professional, friend, and family networks to see who knows the person you want to employ you.  You stand a better chance at getting hired if you know someone at the company, or someone can put in the good word for you.  A cold call or walk-in is just like all the others.  Don't be like all the others.

For other helpful information about applying for a job, check out this advice from Dow Chemical.

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