Should your Employer WARN you before Layoffs?

No employee wants to hear the news of layoffs at their workplace, but it is an unfortunate reality of the marketplace. When there is an economic downturn, recession, or merger, the majority of companies will resort to layoffs in order to keep the ship afloat. However, they cannot leave their employees high and dry. Both California and the federal government have enacted Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (“WARN”) laws that protect employees during layoff season.

In California, the WARN Act applies to any employer with 75 or more full-time or part-time employees while the federal WARN Act applies to employers with 100 or more full-time employees. Under the WARN Act, employers must provide written notice at least 60 days prior to a mass layoff, plant closure, or relocation of at least 100 miles to employees and, in California, the Employment Development Department. In California, employers must also give notice to the Local Workforce Development Areas and the chief elected official of each city and county government where the layoffs are set to occur.

There are limited circumstances that allow an employer to provide less than 60 days’ notice or no notice at all. WARN does not apply when the layoffs are the result of the completion of a project and the employees were hired with the understanding that their employment was limited to the duration of that project. WARN also does not apply to seasonal or temporary employees when they knew their employment was seasonal or temporary. Notice is not required when the mass layoff, relocation, or plant closure is necessitated by a physical calamity or an act of war.

Failure to give the 60-day written notice to employees will make employers liable for a civil penalty of up to $500 per day for each day of the violation. In addition, affected employees can receive back pay and the cost of any benefits they would have been entitled to had they not lost their employment. Employers will also be liable for the cost of any medical expenses incurred by employees that would have been covered under an employee benefit plan.

Employees who are facing layoffs without adequate notice should contact an attorney to explore their legal options. It is important to hold employers accountable so that they can give their employees sufficient notice when layoffs are coming.

The Los Angeles employment law attorneys at Kesluk, Silverstein, Jacob & Morrison, P.C. will help defend workers who have been laid off from work without adequate notice.

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