Large-Scale Layoffs and the WARN Act

Mar 26 2018

Due to the ups and (specifically) downs of the U.S. economy over recent years, including the increasing outsourcing of manufacturing and other job sectors, a number of employers have downsized their workforces. These downsizings (including plant closings) have caused multiple mass layoffs in Connecticut and around the country.

Large-scale layoffs are not necessarily illegal if they are motivated by a legitimate business consideration. However, that doesn’t mean that employees who are subjected to large-scale layoffs are without rights or recourse.

In particular, in the case of mass layoffs, federal law mandates that employers give their employees an appropriate amount of notice or warning. The law — called the Federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act — applies to employers with 100 or more full-time workers. The WARN Act comes into effect when an employer:

  • closes a facility or discontinues an operating unit with 50 or more workers; or
  • lays off 50 to 499 workers, and these workers comprise at least 33% of the total workforce at a single site of employment; or
  • lays off 500 or more workers at a single site of employment.

In those situations, the employees are entitled to 60 days’ notice of the mass layoff. That means 60 days of pay and benefits, including health insurance. Employers who do not comply with the WARN Act may be forced to reimburse workers for every day of notice they didn’t receive.

The WARN Act does have some exceptions. An employer that closes a temporary office or terminates employees who were hired for a specified amount of time or specific project — and were told about it at the time of hiring — do not need to provide advanced notice. In addition, the WARN Act does not apply to a mass layoff that is caused by an unforeseeable circumstance, such as a major weather event or natural disaster.

If you believe that you were laid off for unlawful reasons or in an unlawful way, you should seek legal counsel as soon as possible. The Connecticut employment lawyers at Garrison, Levin-Epstein, Fitzgerald & Pirrotti, P.C. stand ready to review your situation and to discuss your options. Contact our Firm today for more information on how we can help you.

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