The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) requires employers to provide 60-days notice before plant closings or mass layoffs that are covered by the act.  The act applies to employers of 100 or more employees who work 20 or more hours per week and have been employed for more than 6 months, and to both salaried and hourly workers.

When Is Notice Required?

Notice is required in writing to elected employee representatives and to all unrepresented employees 60-days before employment loss in the following situations:

  • Plant Closings – A shutdown of an employment site or facility within a site where the shutdown will result in the layoff of 50 or more employees during a 30-day period.
  • Mass layoff – A mass layoff during a 30-day period of 500 or more employees or more than 50 employees if they make up more than 33% of employer’s workforce.
  • Combination – An employment loss of 2 or more groups of workers during a 90-day period that are individually below the threshold levels but together meet the minimum requirements above.

What Are the Exceptions to the Notice Requirement?

There are several situations that are exempt from the 60-day notice requirement:

  • Temporary facility or completion of project – If the employees were hired with the understanding that their employment was limited to the project or temporary facility, the employer is not required to give notice.
  • Strike -If the plant closing is the result of an employee strike, no notice is required.
  • Offer of transfer – Any employee who is offered a transfer before the layoffs to a facility within a reasonable distance is not considere to have suffered employment loss and is not entitled to notice as long as the new position is not considered constructive discharge.
  • Unforeseeable circumstances – If the layoffs are the result of business circumstances that were reasonably foreseeable at the time notice would be required, or the result of a natural disaster, the notice requirement will be waived.
  • Faltering company – In very narrow situations, companies seeking new capital or business to allow them to remain open will not be required to give notice if this would prevent the new capital.  This exception applies only to plant closings.

What Are the Penalties for Failure to Provide 60-days Notice?

An employee who is not given appropriate notice under WARN may be able to recover pay and benefits lost during the 60-day period.  This amount may be reduced by any amount paid during that period.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

If you feel you have been inappropriately dismissed, either as a part of a mass layoff or otherwise, you should consult an experienced wrongful termination attorney.  A lawyer can help you understand the law and advise you of your rights, as well as represent you in court.