How Does The Warn Act Impact Employment Layoffs?

Posted on: September 21, 2018

A layoff occurs when an employee, or group of employees, is temporarily suspended or permanently terminated from their jobs for business reasons. This could be the result of the company downsizing, merging with other companies, or going out of business, among other reasons.

If you’ve been laid off from work due to any of the aforementioned reasons, the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) may be able to provide some protections, including a 60-day advance notice of a mass layoff as well as wage and benefits recovery.

The Difference Between Getting Laid Off Vs. Terminated

Aside from being laid off, workers can also be terminated from their jobs. Your eligibility for unemployment and future employment prospects could be impacted by the manner in which you lost your last job. Thus, it’s vital that you’re aware of the precise nature of your job loss.

A company or business can terminate an employee for different reasons, namely:

  • Poor work performance (the most typical reason for employee termination),
  • Misconduct,
  • Non-compliance with the organization’s rules or guidelines, or
  • Non-compliance with the conditions stated in the employment contract or agreement.

When an employee is terminated, there is generally no expectation of being rehired at a future date. Employment layoffs, on the other hand, aren’t driven by employee performance or behavior and are the result of the organization restructuring, downsizing, or going out of business. This type of termination is occasionally considered to be temporary since the company could rehire the affected workers in the future.

Explaining Employment at-will

Employment at-will lets companies fire an employee from their position without giving them any clarification or advance notice. Workers who’re employed at-will can also resign from their jobs whenever they choose to and for whatever reason.

At-will employment requires a lot of flexibility on both the employer and employee’s part. It also allows both sides to engage in a fair work environment without any major commitments from either side. However, despite the terms of at-will contracts, at-will employees are still entitled to the following rights upon termination:

  • Contract rights,
  • Company guidelines, and
  • Legal rights provided by both federal and state laws.

The Warn Act & How It Differs on a State and Federal Level

Enacted in 1988 by the 100th United States Congress, the WARN Act compels employers to give their workers a 60-day advance notice regarding plant closures and mass layoffs. The notice must be provided to either affected workers of their representatives (such as their labor union), as well as the state’s dislocated workers unit and the appropriate branch of local government.

This law applies to employers who have 100 or more workers in their company or business. But it does not include employees who have worked less than six months in the last 12 months. Neither does the law cover employees who work an average of less than 20 hours a week. The ruling covers both private and public (commercial) employers, as well as hourly and salaried employees, managers, and supervisors.

Employers should give workers an advance notice regarding the following types of termination:

  1. Plant closure (termination of 50 or more employees under 30 days), or
  2. Mass layoff (termination of 50-499 employees [33% of workers] or 500+ employees under 30 days).

However, California’s version of the WARN Act requires companies or business entities to provide affected employees and state authorities with an advance notice regarding plant closures, mass layoffs, and relocation. Relocation is defined as the transfer of an organization’s operations to a new area which is located at least 100 miles from their original location.

Another notable difference between the federal and state versions of the WARN Act is that the state ruling covers a broader variety of workers. As a result, many employees whose WARN rights have been violated opt to sue their employers under the California law.

The state ruling covers employees with at least six months of employment prior to their termination notice date, as well as employers with 75 or more workers in their company. But there are also several exceptions that exist under California’s WARN Act. These include the following:

  • Calamity or war;
  • Interim employment; and
  • If your employer is looking for investments.

Employees’ Rights Under the Warn Act

As mentioned earlier, employers are required to provide their workers and state authorities with a 60-day termination notice under the WARN Act. Thus, you are entitled to the following rights:

  • Receiving a 60-day notice from your employer;
  • Regaining wages and benefits;
  • Obtaining a reasonable notification; and
  • Getting clarification from your employer if you were not able to obtain a 60-day termination notice.

Moreover, if California employees have employers who’ve breached the state ruling, the former holds the right to receive the following types of compensation from their employer:

a. The standard rate that they have earned for the last three years of their employment (considered as back pay during the ruling breach) or their last payment; and
b. Expenses for any benefits that they would have earned for the duration of the WARN breach, including the amount of their incurred medical expenses.

The following expenses will also lessen the sum of compensation you may earn under the state law:

a. Any payment that was given to you by your employer for the duration of the ruling breach; and
b. Any non-compulsory or unconditional reimbursement from your employer that was not made to fulfill any legal liability.

The court can even award you attorney’s fees in addition to the above-mentioned damages, should you win a claim against your employer.

Take Legal Action Against Your Employer for Warn Act Violations

If you’ve been affected by employment layoffs but did not receive proper notice ahead of time, you can file a lawsuit against your employer for possible infractions of the WARN Act. However, it is not advisable to pursue a settlement on your own. To ensure a successful outcome, you’ll need to hire a competent wrongful termination attorney.

Mesriani Law Group offers plaintiffs a variety of legal services for different employment and personal injury cases. Our lawyers have years’ worth of expertise in handling various lawsuits, including WARN Act violations. Leave the litigation to the experts to ensure a just and successful outcome.