Helping Employees With WARN Act Claims
In an ever-changing economy, workers need to know when their employers may be thinking of closing a business or laying off a substantial number of employees. State and federal laws require employers to provide notification if these changes will be occurring.
If you have recently been impacted by a mass layoff or plant closure and you were not notified of these potential changes, you may have claims for a WARN Act violation. At Hearn Law Firm, PLLC, we represent clients throughout the region in state and federal matters regarding an employer’s failure to follow these specific requirements.
What Is The WARN Act?
The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act is a federal law that requires employers to warn their employees if they plan to close a plant or enact mass layoffs. Many states have similar requirements in place as well. Complying with this law gives employees time to find other work before a plant closing or mass layoff and minimizes the disruption in their lives.
A WARN notice also alerts the State Rapid Response Dislocated Worker Unit, part of the U.S. Department of Labor. The unit provides services and assistance to displaced workers, including job searches, placement and training.
Generally, employers with more than 100 full-time employees must provide written notice of plant closings or mass layoffs at least 60 days in advance. When this notice isn’t provided, employees may be able to bring claims against their employers for the plant closure or mass layoff, which may result in back pay and pay for benefits that you may have received during the period in question.
Does it matter where I live in WARN Act cases?
In WARN Act cases, the state where you live matters insofar as employers must follow both state and federal laws regarding mass layoffs. Whether you reside in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia or Mississippi, our attorneys can help you determine the rules that apply to WARN Act cases in your state.
Can my employer structure layoffs to avoid WARN Act requirements?
Unfortunately, employers have ways to skirt WARN Act requirements. They often do this by staggering layoffs, dismissing employees in several waves rather than all at once. While some may find this practice unethical, it does not run afoul of any laws.
In recent years, however, some employers have performed mass layoffs without giving employees the required notice (60 days). Sudden mass layoffs like these violate WARN Act requirements, and employers could face penalties for their actions. They can avoid these, though, by providing affected employees with back severance pay.
What happens if my place of employment is sold?
If your employer is sold, you will technically be terminated, even if you keep your job. This is because you will no longer be an employee of your old company but of your new company, no matter whether your employer’s name or your work duties remain the same. In this scenario, no WARN notice needs to be provided.
A WARN notice must be provided, however, if either the buying or selling enterprise terminates positions through a mass layoff. The party performing the layoff is responsible for providing notice to affected employees and could be penalized if they fail to do so.
Important WARN Act Terms To Know
Employer: The WARN Act defines an employer as any business that employs at least 100 workers (whether full-time and part-time jobs or full-time jobs only, though not part-time jobs only). Furthermore, these workers must work at least 4,000 hours per week combined. An employer may be a private business, a nonprofit organization or a government-associated organization.
Employment loss: The WARN Act defines employment loss as any nonvoluntary termination that occurs without cause. This could be either a permanent layoff or a substantial reduction of work hours (over 50%) lasting up to six months.
Mass layoff: The WARN Act defines a mass layoff as a large reduction in an employer’s workforce (not due to a plant closing) that occurs all at once. Mass layoffs pertain to groups of 500 or more employees, as well as groups of 50-499 full-time employees who account for at least 33% of an employer’s workforce (whether overall or in a single location).
Plant closing: The WARN Act defines a plant closing as the temporary or permanent shuttering of a workplace where 50 or more people work.
We’ll Help You Understand Your Options
If you think your employer may have closed a plant or initiated a mass layoff that violates the WARN Act, our lawyers are here to help. We can help you hold your employer accountable and recover the compensation you are entitled to receive under state and federal laws. To schedule a consultation, call us at 866-583-8721 or request an appointment online.