Layoffs Snowball as the Holidays Approach

Allen Smith, J.D. By Allen Smith, J.D. November 14, 2022
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Laid-off employees exiting a building carrying boxes of personal belongings

​As the holiday season draws near—and companies face lower consumer confidence and greater fears of a recession—many employers are laying off workers. The technology sector has been particularly hard hit, with thousands laid off from Meta, Stripe and Twitter. HR has been in the crosshairs as well, reportedly with expected layoffs at Amazon. In addition, layoffs are spreading beyond technology, such as to the Walt Disney Co. We've gathered articles on the news from SHRM Online and other media outlets.

Expected Layoffs at Amazon Reportedly Will Cut HR

Amazon reportedly will cut approximately 10,000 jobs, reducing HR, the company's devices organization and retail division. The total number of layoffs at the company remains in flux. But if the figure stays around 10,000, that would be approximately 3 percent of Amazon's corporate employees and fewer than 1 percent of its global workforce of more than 1.5 million.

The layoffs during the holiday shopping season reflect how quickly the souring global economy has pressured Amazon to cut costs.

(The New York Times)

Meta Lays Off More than 11,000 Workers

Meta downsized by more than 11,000 employees, or 13 percent of its workforce, on Nov. 9. CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company grew too quickly during the pandemic, when a surge in online commerce lifted many tech companies. The cuts may also be due to the billions Meta has invested in the metaverse when the company was already struggling financially.

Nearly half of the jobs Meta eliminated were technology roles. The company will stop developing smart displays and smartwatches. Meta executives said they were reorganizing parts of the company, combining a voice and video unit with other messaging teams. Overall, 54 percent of those laid off were in business positions.

(The New York Times) and (Reuters)

[See SHRM members-only toolkit: Managing Downsizing by Means of Layoffs]

Twitter's Reduction in Force

Twitter reduced its workforce by nearly half recently, laying off approximately 3,700 workers. Dozens are reportedly being asked to return as they were laid off "by mistake," according to sources cited by Bloomberg. Former employees sued Twitter Nov. 3 in a proposed class action by those who claimed employees were not given proper notice of the layoffs.

(CNBC), (TechCrunch+), (Bloomberg) and (SHRM Online)

Other Layoffs, Including Soon at Disney

Other recent layoffs have occurred at such companies as Coinbase, Netflix, Shopify, Stripe and Spotify. Online payments giant Stripe cut 14 percent of its workers Nov. 3. CEO Patrick Collison wrote in a memo to staff that the layoffs were necessary amid rising inflation, fears of a looming recession, higher interest rates, energy shocks, tighter investment budgets and sparser startup funding. These factors signal "that 2022 represents the beginning of a different economic climate," he said.

In addition, Bob Chapek, CEO of the Walt Disney Company, announced that Disney is on the verge of cutting costs and staff. "We are going to have to make tough and uncomfortable decisions," he said in a memo. "But that is just what leadership requires, and I thank you in advance for stepping up during this important time."

(CNBC) and (Deadline)

Layoffs' Severe Impact on Workers with H-1B Visas

The layoffs will be particularly difficult for workers with H-1B visas, who will have to find a job within 60 days or leave the U.S. unless they change their visa status. Tech companies depend on foreign workers, particularly from India and China, to fill specialty roles. Companies say there's a shortage of workers with the needed technical skills.

(Quartz)

Avoid Costly Errors in Layoffs

Without careful planning, layoffs can result in costly errors. "The losses incurred in discrimination litigation following a badly executed layoff can easily exceed the amount that was sought to be saved by implementing the layoff," said Gerald Hathaway, an attorney with Faegre Drinker in New York City.

(SHRM Online)

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