Were you, along with a substantial number of your coworkers, recently laid off? Did your employer give you sixty days notice of the layoff? If not, your employer may have violated the WARN Act.
The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act was passed in the late 1980’s, with the intention or protecting workers and their families from unexpected job loss. The law requires employers to give sixty days notice to affected employees prior to a plant closing or mass layoff.
What is a plant closing or mass layoff?
A plant closing occurs when an employment site or facility within an employment site will shut down, and at least fifty employees will experience job loss, all starting within a thirty day period. This does not include part time employees, defined in the act as those who have been employed by the employer for less than six months, or who work an average of twenty hours a week or less. This means you have to look at more than one week to determine whether or not you are a part time employee. Although these employees are not factored in to the count of how many employees are affected, they also must receive notice.
A mass layoff occurs when (1) at least fifty employees are laid off during a thirty day period, if those fifty employees equal on third or more of the workforce at that location; or (2) 500 or more employees are laid off, regardless of the number of employees at the location during a period of thirty days.
What is job loss?
There are three situations which will be considered a job loss: (1) termination, other than a discharge for cause, voluntary departure, or retirement; (2) a layoff exceeding six months; or (3) a reduction in an employee’s hours of work of more than 50% of each month in any six month period.
It is important to pay attention to the voluntary departure exception to the job loss requirement. If your employer closes down the facility you work at, but offers you a position at a different facility within a reasonable commuting distance, it will not be considered a job loss and you are not entitled to notification or back pay.
Employers may not have to give notice in the following situations, although they need to give notice as soon as reasonably practicable: (1) a narrow circumstance where the employer attempts to obtain new capital or business in order to stay open and notice would endanger that possibility (this exception only applies to plant closings); (2) unforeseeable business circumstances, which must have been unforeseeable at the time notice would have been required to be given; and (3) natural disasters.
What happens if my employer violates the law?
Your employer may be required to give you pay your wages for up to sixty days after your last day of work. This includes all benefits you would have received and any additional pay you would have been entitled to if you had continued to be employed (for example, if you had been scheduled to work a holiday and you would have been paid at a higher rate for working the holiday). Your employer may also faces fines.
If you believe you should have received notice under the WARN act and did not, please do not hesitate to contact an attorney to assist you.