Workers’ fates are tied to those of their employers. In good times, there are raises and promotions; in hard times there are mass furloughs, layoffs and firings. Employees have limited, but important rights in these situations. In addition, there are other, associated issues which may provide avenues for relief. Pelton Graham is here to help you navigate these difficult times.

Under the federal WARN Act, an employer who orders a plant closing or mass layoff and fails to provide the required notice is liable to each unnotified employee for back pay and benefits for up to 60 days.

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WARN Act Liability

Employers with at least 100 or more full-time employees are generally covered by the WARN Act. Employers must provide at least 60 calendar days advance written notice of a plant closing or mass layoff affecting 50 or more employees at a single site of employment.

Events need not be permanent to trigger WARN Act liability. Also covered are:

  • “Temporary” layoffs that exceed six months, either as originally announced or as extended after the layoff began; and

  • “Reduction in Hours,” i.e., a reduction in work hours for 50 or more full-time workers by 50% or more during any 6-month period.

New York and New Jersey are two of 19 states that have “mini-WARN” laws. These are quite similar to the federal WARN Act, although the triggering thresholds may differ.

Frustrated young woman in yellow sweater standing at table and touching face with hand on her face while packing stuff in office after layoff

Illegal Termination

Unfortunately, layoffs are sometimes used as an excuse to illegally terminate certain employees. When the lawyers at Pelton Graham assess your case, we take extra care to analyze whether the data suggests that your layoff was improper.

For example, layoffs have been used to:

Layoffs that violate company policies or labor agreements may also trigger employment contract liability for the employer, in addition to its WARN Act and general legal obligations.

Employers usually have no duty to rehire laid off employees. However, if the employer has implemented rehiring procedures or made any promises in connection with the layoff, it must comply with its policies and promises. And if an employer hires someone new for a position soon after laying off the incumbent, it raises questions as to whether the layoff was for the claimed economic reasons or for some improper reason.

We’re Here to Help

If you are concerned that your layoff has not been correctly handled, especially if it affects a number of employees in the same situation, you should act promptly to seek advice. This is important both in order to stop the unfair activity, and because employment protection laws have strict filing deadlines which could bar your claim. Pelton Graham is here to help.

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