What recourse do I have against the company that laid me off and then tried to fill me position?
The U.S. has laws regarding being fired for discriminatory reasons, on the basis of protected classes such as age, race, gender, nationality, handicap, or religion. However terminations for business budgetary reasons alone aren’t illegal. Wrongful discharge claims are often made on the basis of discrimination against a protected classification. If an employee isn’t protected by an employment or union contract, they are typically at-will employees who may be fired for any or no reason without notice. If a contract, such as a collective bargaining agreement applies, employees may be required to be given a fair warning as to their performance and conduct which might lead to their dismissal, as well as a step-by-step procedure leading up to dismissal. Such contracts may also specify the terms of rehire upon layoff.
Generally, as long as an employee is not wrongfully discharged, and the layoff terms of a contract aren't violated, the position may be filled with another employee at the same or a lower wage, unless prevented by wage standards under a collective bargaining contract with a union, prevailing wage laws, etc. For example, an employee may be wrongfully discharged, in violation of an employment contract, collective bargaining agreement, or for discriminatory reasons based on age, sex, race religion, nationality, or disability. However, an employee who is not wrongfully discharged and doesn't have contractual rights regarding rehire may not bring a claim against an employer merely for being replaced by another employee.