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October 11, 2000
California Decision Makes Firing Easier

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Older Workers, Those with Good Performance Can be Fired

Employers in California are breathing easier this week thanks to a new California Supreme Court ruling. Their decision backed off a 1988 ruling that made it difficult to fire workers if their performance had been good. It also ruled that older workers cannot automatically charge age discrimination when laid off, just because some younger workers were not also given pink slips.

The decision applies to all private, nonunion workplaces in California.

Advocates for employees were not encouraged by the decision. Speaking in the Los Angeles Times, Steve Kaplan, an employment lawyer, said: "There are no good signals for employees here. The court seems to be going out of its way, both in discrimination and employee contract rights, to cut back on the rights of employees."

Attorneys for employers were, of course, delighted with the decision, particularly the part concerning age discrimination. Now a fired worker in the state will have to prove that his employer factored age into the decision to lay him or her off.

The case involved was Guz vs. Bechtel.

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