The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act is a federal law that requires certain employers to give workers advance notice of mass layoffs, plant closings, and other situations that will cause many workers to lose their jobs.
While this law does not prevent layoffs, it does allow workers to plan for the loss of their jobs in advance by requiring employers to provide notice of forthcoming changes. It only applies to certain employers under specific circumstances. An employment lawyer in North Carolina can help determine if it applies in your case.
The WARN Act, 20 CFR Part 639, is meant to protect workers and families from unforeseen disruptions in income. It requires certain employers to provide at least two months—60 calendar days—advance notice before a mass layoff or plant closing. This law is in effect for large employers that plan to lay off 50+ workers from a single site. The WARN Act generally applies to most employers with 100 or more full-time workers.
Employers may receive an exception to the WARN Act requirements if they need to lay off workers for reasons such as:
- Unforeseeable economic issues
- Unforeseeable industry concerns
- Failure to obtain necessary capital
- Natural disasters
As you can see, when this law applies is complex. Employment law firms can assess these cases to determine if an employer laid off workers without the required advance notice.
What Is the Goal of the Warn Act?
The goal of the WARN Act is to ensure workers can take the time to seek new employment, enroll in training or educational coursework, or make other plans to manage their loss of work and income.
Large-scale layoffs and plant closures can significantly affect families and entire communities. When workers have an opportunity to find another job or make other decisions about their future before they lose their income, it can greatly benefit the individual, their family, and the community as a whole.
Who Receives a WARN Act Notice?
When an employer issues a notice under the WARN Act, they must notify all workers potentially affected, including:
- Salaries workers
- Hourly employees
They must also notify union or other employee representatives and local and state officials. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) offers some services and resources for employees who receive advance notice of layoffs through the Rapid Response program.
The Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration oversees the WARN Act but does not have any way to enforce the law or penalize companies who fail to provide warnings. In theory, companies that violate this law should owe damages to employees who lost the opportunity to seek new employment before their current job ends.
You can explore the information the Employment and Training Administration provides about WARN Act compliance assistance and learn more about your state’s plant closure and layoff notice laws. If you believe your employer failed to provide adequate notice of your layoff, these resources may help.
You can also contact an attorney near you who handles employment law cases. You may be able to hold your previous employer accountable if they failed to follow this law.
Personal Injury Lawyer Near Me 828.286.3866
Most workers in the United States are at-will employees. This means the employer can terminate their job for almost any reason without needing to explain it.
Only when there are large-scale layoffs or plant closings, and the WARN Act is in effect, is advanced notice required. Some employment agreements or union contracts require advanced notice, as well.
Many employees who are laid off will not receive advance notice. Knowing how to handle this can greatly reduce your stress and make it easier to focus on finding another job or enrolling in training or educational classes.
First, you must ensure you understand your separation agreement. You may need to ask about:
- Unemployment: You should qualify for unemployment benefits. Be careful to avoid any agreement that requires you to resign. This will jeopardize your ability to receive unemployment.
- Insurance: Your insurance should not end immediately. Ensure you have coverage for the rest of the month and an option to keep your insurance through COBRA until you have a new job or coverage.
- Severance Pay: While not required, some employers provide severance pay. Carefully review the agreement to ensure it does not restrict your future employment opportunities, though.
Generally, the WARN Act only mandates companies give advance notice to employees before a large-scale layoff. It does not prevent the layoff. Companies can usually lay off or hire workers as their needs change without violating any laws. However, there are some protected classes, and laying off employees because of these qualities would be discriminatory.
Companies should not lay off workers based on age, sex, national origin, religion, race, or disability. They also cannot retaliate for a workers’ comp claim or Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave.
If they do, and there is evidence to support your allegations, you could pursue damages and hold them accountable for discriminatory employment practices. You can learn more about how these cases work by meeting with an employment lawyer and discussing your options.
You cannot sue in discrimination cases without approval from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC, represents clients across North and South Carolina. We have multiple offices, including in Rutherfordton, NC, Spartanburg, SC, Morganton, NC, and Shelby, NC. If you have questions about your rights as a laid-off employee or employment law, we are here for you.
Contact us today to speak to a team member about your legal options for compensation.