State WARN Acts

Layoffs & Closings

Outten & Golden attorneys are familiar with both the federal WARN Act and with the many state versions of the statute, and represent employees across the country in actions to recover lost pay.

The following states or territories have their own versions of the WARN Act that expand on the protections of the federal law, by covering small layoffs or by having fewer exceptions: California, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Tennessee, Wisconsin and the Virgin Islands.

State WARN Acts may offer workers stronger protection than the federal WARN Act, such as longer notice periods and higher damages. Some states also have a lower threshold for a RIF to qualify as a mass layoff, as low as 25 employees.  For example, the New York state WARN Act expands coverage to employers of only 50 or more full-time employees, as compared with 100 full-time employees under the federal WARN Act. The New York WARN Act also requires that an employer provide 90 days’ advance notice of a plant closing or mass layoff – 30 days more than required under federal law. Under the New York law, employers who violate the notice requirements owe employees 60 calendar days of back pay and benefits, as compared to 60 working days, which can result in more compensation for employees.

California is another state that offers more protections to workers than the federal WARN Act.  California’s state WARN Act covers more employers and contains more triggering events than the federal WARN Act.  It requires companies with at least seventy-five employees (both full-time and part-time) to provide 60 days’ notice to employees in the following circumstances: a layoff affecting at least fifty employees within a thirty-day period; relocation of all or substantially all of a company’s operations to a new location at least one hundred miles away from the present location; or termination of all or substantially all of a company’s industrial or commercial operations.

New Jersey’s WARN law stands out because it provides employers virtually no defenses.  California law does not provide employers the “unforeseeable business circumstances” defense found in federal WARN.

State WARN laws, like the federal WARN law, are technical and how they intersect with the federal law may be complicated.  Outten & Golden lawyers can help employees from every state who have lost their jobs in a mass layoff, reduction in force, or company closing to evaluate whether they have legal claims against their employers and how much they may be entitled.  Our team has represented employees in every federal district in the United States, in district and bankruptcy courts.