The WARN Act Ensures Employees Have Advance Notice In Cases of Plant Closings, Mass Layoffs, and Relocation
During a recession, layoffs are inevitable. It is not only fair to give employees substantial notice, but also the law. The law requires employers to comply with labor codes such as the WARN Act before laying off employees. If you are an employee who has been laid off, you may be eligible to receive back pay as well as the cost of any benefits you would have been entitled to and medical expenses incurred that would have been covered under the employee benefit plan.
What Is The WARN Act?
The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act helps ensure advance notice in cases of qualified plant closings, mass layoffs, and relocations. WARN protects employees, their families, and communities by requiring employers to give advance notice to the affected employees and both state and local representatives before a plant closing or mass layoff. Advance notice provides employees and their families time to transition and adjust to the potential loss of employment, time to seek alternative jobs and, if necessary, time to obtain skills training or retraining to successfully compete in the job market.
Employees File Lawsuits Against Twitter And Other Companies For Violating The WARN Act
Former employees of Twitter filed class-action lawsuits against the company claiming Twitter violated the WARN Act when it laid off 50% of its workforce. Twitter isn’t the only company undergoing mass layoffs. So far in 2022, there have been nearly 140,000 people laid off from various tech companies. In California alone, 312 tech companies laid off employees in 2022.1 In November alone, Amazon laid off 10,000 people, Meta, the parent company of Facebook, laid off 11,000 employees, and Carvana laid off 1,500 workers.
United Furniture Sued For Violating The Warn Act After Laying Off All Of Its Employees
United Furniture Industries Inc. has employees in multiple states, including California. Court documents say United Furniture notified its employees via email and text messages that it was terminating all of its employees effective immediately. The new lawsuit alleges that United Furniture Industries violated the federal WARN Act. The California plaintiffs said, “most employees were not paid for their final week … and no employees were paid for their accrued paid time off.” Besides the WARN Act, the California plaintiffs claim United violated two California labor codes.3
Does My Employer Have To Comply With The WARN Act?
Many factors determine whether your company is required to comply with the WARN Act such as the total number of employees, location, and length of time you were employed. The WARN Act makes certain exceptions to the requirements when employers can show that layoffs or worksite closings occur due to faltering companies, unforeseen business circumstances, and natural disasters. However, even during a pandemic such as Covid-19, the WARN Act applies.
It is important to consult an employment law attorney that represents employees in your state because there are different requirements based on the location of your employer. Along with the federal WARN Act, which covers employees throughout the country, there are state, and city-level WARN Acts. For
example, in San Diego County, an employer must provide notice to the San Diego Workforce Partnership, which is the local Workforce Development Board for the region.4
What Is The Difference Between The California WARN Act And The Federal WARN Act?
California’s version of the WARN Act is broader in scope than the federal WARN Act. California employers must comply with the requirements of both laws in addition to any city-level requirements.
Are Layoffs Due To COVID-19 Covered By The WARN Act?
Yes, under certain circumstances. It is best to consult an attorney regarding your specific employment situation. Short-term layoffs, temporary layoffs, or furloughs that last longer than six months or that are later extended to last longer than originally contemplated are expressly addressed by the WARN Act and regulations. The layoff can be treated as an employment loss and may violate the WARN Act unless it meets the exceptions.5
What Role Does the U.S. Department of Labor Provide?
The role of the U.S. Department of Labor is limited to providing guidance and information about the WARN Act; such guidance is not binding on courts and does not replace the advice of an attorney.
What Should I Do If I Have Been Laid Off Without Notice?
Call Haeggquist & Eck if you have been laid off and want to determine if you might be eligible for compensation for violation of your employment rights.
3. Winston Salem Journal
4. San Diego Workforce Partnership
5. Department of Labor