Covid19 Is Creating a Wave of Mass Layoffs and Terminations in Many Workplaces. Are Your WARN Act Rights Protected in the Middle of a Pandemic?

Employee Rights When Laid Off Due to Coronavirus

The Coronavirus has effectively shut down life within the United States in a matter of days. Many companies are making decisions regarding their workforce. With no money coming in, many will be unable to keep their doors open beyond the shutdown. Unfortunately, mass layoffs and terminations will follow.

Even amid a pandemic, employees have rights protecting them against mass layoffs and terminations. Federal and State WARN Act laws protect employees from sudden layoffs without written notice, even in the event of an emergency.

What Is the Federal WARN Act?

The Federal WARN Act protects employees from sudden mass layoffs and terminations for almost any reason. The law applies to facilities with 100 or more employees. The layoffs must affect at least 50 employees and last at least six months.

Whether a facility is closing permanently, reducing the workforce, or being purchased by another business, the WARN Act requires employers to provide at least 60 days advance notice to employees. This notice allows employees to prepare for a job loss.

Some important factors to note regarding the federal WARN Act:

  • A furlough is not a layoff. Many companies may choose to furlough their employees. These employers likely have the ability to cease production without considerable financial constraint. Furloughed employees will return to work once the crisis is over.
  • Each location for a company is its own facility. If one site has under 100 employees, even if the company has thousands of employees, that location’s employees are not protected under the federal WARN Act.
  • A layoff lasting less than six months is not covered under the federal WARN Act. Many employers may close their doors for a month or two. If they hire their employees back once they reopen, the federal WARN Act does not apply.

Do State Warn Act Laws Offer Employees More Protections?

Many state WARN Act laws protect more employees than the federal law. New York City’s laws apply to facilities with 50 or more people. These facilities must lay off or terminate 25 or more people. Employers must give 90 days’ notice to employees regarding the layoffs or closing.

California’s law applies to all layoffs, whether they are for a few days or six months or more. Therefore, any business in California that wishes to terminate or lay off a large number of employees must find another alternative or face the hefty settlements associated with California WARN Act violations.

New Jersey’s WARN Act recently underwent several changes that create a better benefit for the employee. Any company in New Jersey with 100 or more employees across the entire state cannot terminate 50 or more employees without providing 90 days’ notice. All employees working for the company for at least 30 days are protected.

Under New Jersey law, the entire company’s employee count is used to determine eligibility, as opposed to each facility. Also, part-time and full-time employees receive protection under the NJ WARN Act.

Do Warn Act Laws Apply to Layoffs Due to the Coronavirus?

The federal and many state WARN Act laws provide provisions for emergencies. These situations occur so quickly there is no time to provide advance notice to employees. In such a case, an employer must provide written notice that layoffs and terminations will occur.

The pandemic known as the Coronavirus Covid19 is creating an emergent need for many businesses to close their doors. However, these employers must follow the laws of their state as well as the federal law. They must at least provide notification in writing to follow the law.

Has your company closed its doors as a result of the Coronavirus? Did you get laid off or fired because your employer lost business due to the Coronavirus?

If you are a victim of job loss because of this global pandemic and your employer laid off at least 50 employees, you may have a claim under the Federal or your local state WARN Act.

The compassionate attorneys at the Derek Smith Law Group can help, Contact us today at (800) 807-2209 for your free consultation. We do not collect any fees until you win your case.