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WARN Act – Mandatory 60-Day Notice for Mass Layoffs and Business Closures

The federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act (or the Act) requires all employers in the United States with 100 or more full time employees to provide 60-day notice in advance of mass layoffs or plant closings.  The Act applies to full time workers who are not on a temporary assignment.  The Act was originally passed in 1988 and seeks to provide workers with sufficient time to prepare for the transition between the jobs they currently hold and new jobs.

If an employer does not provide the mandatory 60-day notice, it must pay back pay and benefits to the affected employees for each day that the employer failed to give notice, up to the mandatory 60 days. 

If you have been laid off as part of a mass layoff or plant closure and did not receive the required 60-day notice, contact Schneider Wallace Cottrell Konecky for a free legal consultation today.  Our employment attorneys can evaluate your case and assist in obtaining back pay and benefits owed under the Act.  

Call us today at 1-800-689-0024 to speak with our experienced employment attorneys. 

What Triggers the WARN Act 

The requirement for 60-day notice with pay and benefits is triggered in the following situations:  

  • Layoffs of 500 or more workers at a single site or location.  “Site” and “location” are broad terms and may include all buildings in a corporate complex or multiple addresses in a row or nearby to each other; 
  • Layoffs of 50 or more workers when those layoffs comprise 33% of the total full-time workers at the location; 
  • Layoffs of 50 or more workers when closing a building or facility, or the layoffs include the discontinuation of an entire operating unit (not all 50 workers need to be part of the operating unit being closed); 
  • Temporary layoffs meeting the above criteria that become permanent or will now exceed 6 months, except for cases where the extension was not reasonably foreseeable; or 
  • Reduction of hours by 50% or more, for each month in a 6-month period, for an employee group that meets the size and percentage of 1-3 above. 

It is important to note each layoff or closure is tracked for up to 90 days.  For example, if an employer with 200 employees lays off 40 workers on Day 1, then lays off an additional 30 employees 20 days later, all 70 employees are entitled to the 60-day notice before termination of employment. The 40 workers laid off without notice on Day 1 would be subject to 60 days of back pay even though their individual mass layoff did not trigger WARN and was not triggered until the occurrence of subsequent layoffs.   

There are limited exceptions to the WARN notice requirements: (1) when a company is seeking funding and giving warning would jeopardize the ability of the company to gain capital and continue to function; (2) when the closure was unforeseeable such as a sudden pandemic, or (3) when the closure or layoff is a result of a natural disaster. 

Penalties for Employers Who Violate the Act 

Employers who fail to provide the mandatory 60-day notice will be required to provide back pay for the length of the violation, up to 60 days.  The back pay also includes benefits, such as health care coverage. Employers in violation of the Act may be subject to penalties up to $500 for each day of violation.  The employer may also be required to pay reasonable attorney’s fees and costs if the case is resolved in court.  

States with Similar WARN Protections 

Thirteen states have passed their own form of WARN, some of which add additional employer obligations.  Covered employers must comply with both the state and federal WARN Act provisions.  These states include:   

  • California 
  • Hawaii 
  • Illinois 
  • Iowa 
  • Maine 
  • Massachusetts 
  • Michigan 
  • Minnesota 
  • New Hampshire 
  • New Jersey 
  • New York 
  • Tennessee 
  • Wisconsin 

The city of Philadelphia has also passed a local WARN law. 

California WARN Act 

The California WARN Act adds stricter criteria than the federal WARN Act and expands the scope covered employers: 

  • Includes Part-Time Workers: California WARN covers employers who employ 75 or more employees and includes part-time employees working less than 20 hours per week. 
  • No 33% Threshold: Unlike its federal counterpart, California’s WARN Act requires notice for mass layoffs of 50 or more employees, regardless of the percentage of workforce.  Under the federal WARN Act, the layoff must involve 50-499 employees constituting at least one-third of the full-time workforce. 
  • Plant Closures of Any Size:  If a plant is closed, the employer must give 60-day notice regardless of the amount of employees affected. 

California temporarily suspended enforcement of the WARN Act due to the pandemic, but the suspension has been lifted and employers must comply with the Act. 

New York WARN Act 

New York’s WARN Act establishes a longer notice period than its federal counterpart and lowers the number of workers required to trigger the notice. Employers in New York with at least 50 full-time employees must provide 90-days notice prior to plant closure or a mass layoff affecting either one-third of the workforce (at least 25 employees) or 250 employees from a single site.   

For example, an employer with 75 workers at a New York location is required to provide 90-day notice to employees for layoffs affecting 25 or more workers.  These workers would be entitled to full pay and benefits during the 90-day notice period. 

For more information on New Yorks mass layoff WARN laws, please see the NY Department of Interior WARN website.  If you have been affected by a mass layoff or plant closure in New York, contact our experienced employment attorneys at 1-855-497-7272 for a free legal consultation. 

Our Mass Layoff Attorneys 

To schedule an appointment with our knowledgeable employment attorneys regarding a mass layoff or plant closure, call us for a free consultation at 1-800-689-0024.  

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