Mass Layoffs

Layoffs & Closings

Outten & Golden attorneys represent employees who have lost their jobs in mass layoffs and helped them recover back pay wages.  But what is a mass layoff?

The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN Act)

A federal law called the WARN Act, and many similar state laws, require employers to give employees a certain amount of notice before terminating their employment in a "mass layoff."

You can tell a Mass Layoff by its numbers

The WARN Act includes a detailed definition of what constitutes a mass layoff:

  • The employer must have 100 or more full-time employees who each worked more than six of the prior 12 months and averaged over 20 hours a week of work each.
  • 50 or more employees are laid off at a site, and they represent over one-third of the workforce at that site (but if 500 or more employees are laid off at a site, they do not need to meet the one-third requirement).
  • 50 or more employees are let go when a worksite is shut down.
  • Multiple workforce reductions within a 30-day window are combined into one layoff.
  • The 90-day rule combines two layoffs that may not meet the threshold individually.
  • WARN does not cover most government employers.

If a layoff does not meet these criteria the WARN Act does not apply and the employer is not legally required to give employees notice before firing them. If, however, an employer is required to give notice to its employees, that notice must contain very specific information.

If a layoff meets these criteria, it is regarded as a mass layoff, which triggers the protections provided by the WARN Act. The WARN Act requires the employer to notify employees in writing at least 60 days before the layoff takes effect. If the employer fails to provide the required notice, it is legally required to pay the laid off employees their wages for the period during which they should have been on notice.

But, at times, the numbers are dizzying – and that’s if you can find them

Often employees may not squarely fall into the category of a worker who is permanently terminated in a mass layoff or shutdown. For example, some employees may be notified that they are being furloughed for a period of time. Some workers may be rehired after a period of time following a mass layoff. Some employees are told that they can apply for other jobs within the company. Finally, some employees may receive an offer of employment by a company that purchases their former employer. In these instances, the employees may still be entitled to WARN notice, or compensated for lack of notice.

It is essential, as you can see, to have a trained eye look at the numbers to determine if a WARN mass layoff has occurred.  An experienced lawyer may do that, but may also have to knock on doors to get to the numbers.  That data resides with the company, usually, not with the employees.  Your lawyer may find it necessary to lodge a complaint or even commence a lawsuit to get the data.  That is why seeking experienced legal assistance is often required to determine whether the WARN rights of employees have been violated, and to seek redress when violations occur.

Telling Outten & Golden about your layoff makes sense

If you believe your employment rights may have been violated under the WARN Act, or want to have your questions answered, please contact the firm through the ”Contact Us" form or by calling us in our New York, Washington, DC or San Francisco offices (see bottom of page for phone numbers) to begin the Outten & Golden intake process.