When the coal mine decided to implement a “reduction in force” (RIF), among those chosen for termination were four employees who had been with the company for many years. Those four employees were within one to two years of full retirement age when they were fired. When challenged, the company claimed these four were “low performers,” but that claim, did not match its internal evaluations of the men that were prepared before the RIF.
The company also failed to follow its handbook procedure that would have given these employees the right to make their case without a lawsuit. So a suit was filed, and at the trial the jury concluded that the company had used the RIF procedure to avoid giving the employees a right to be heard as well as to save the company from paying these four men the full retirement they had earned. The jury returned a verdict for $2.3 million, which the company aggressively appealed and lost.