What Is the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN)?

Discovering that your employer is conducting mass layoffs can be devastating. Workers, their families, and entire communities suffer when employers engage in mass layoffs. In an attempt to protect workers from mass layoffs, Congress passed the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (“WARN” Act). The WARN Act requires employers with 100 or more employees to notify employees at least 60 days before any mass layoff or plant closure. 

New York City Mass Layoff Employment Attorney 

If you lost your job through a mass layoff, you may be entitled to compensation. The WARN Act allows claimants to recover damages equal to 60 days of payment from employers who fail to provide proper notice. Lipsky Lowe LLP is a New York City law firm that focuses exclusively on employment law. With over 30 years of employment law experience, our attorneys know how to fight aggressively for your interests. Facing unemployment due to a mass layoff can be devastating. Receiving salary compensation can ease the burden caused by a recent layoff. Contact our employment law firm today to schedule your initial consultation. 

Which Employees Does the WARN Act Protect?

The WARN Act protects publicly and privately held companies with 100 or more employees who:

  • Have worked for the company for at least nine months
  • Work an average of 20 hours or more each week

For-profit businesses and not-for-profit businesses are subject to the requirements of the WARN act. When the WARN act applies to a company lay off or plant shut down, the Act protects employees when a plant closing or a mass layoff occurs. 

Employers Must Give Employees At Least 60 Days Notice of a Mass Layoff

Qualifying employers must provide written notice within 60 days of a plant closure or mass layoff. Employers must provide written notice to the following individuals and groups:

  • Employees
  • State dislocated worker unit
  • Chief elected official of the employees’ labor union

What Constitutes a Plant Closing Under the WARN Act?

A plant closing happens when an employer shuts a facility or operating unit down at a single employment site. The plant closing must result in the layoff or employment termination of at least 50 full-time employees. 

What Constitutes a Mass Layoff Under The WARN Act?

A mass layoff under the WARN Act occurs when an employer lays off between 50-499 full-time employees within 30 days. To qualify, the number of employees who are laid off must represent at least 33 percent of the number of full-time workers at a single employment site. Additionally, a mass layoff occurs when an employer lays off 500 or more full-time workers at a single employment site within 30 days.

Compensation Available Under the WARN Act

Employees who make successful WARN Act claims may be entitled to the following types of damages:

  • Severance pay equal to two months of an employee’s regular salary
  • Compensation for two months of employee benefits, such as the cost of health insurance 

New York State’s Mass Layoff Notification Law 

The New York Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (NY WARN) is similar to the federal WARN Act with a few differences. The NY WARN Act offers more employee protections than the federal law. For example, the NY WARN Act covers employers with 50 or more employees. 

The NY law requires employers to provide at least 90 days of advance notice of a mass layoff or plant closing. The mass layoff or plant closing must result in the loss of employment of 25 full-time employees for 30 days. Additionally, the NY WARN Act requires qualified employers to give notice to the following individuals and groups:

  • All employees who are affected and their representatives
  • The New York Department of Labor, and
  • The business’s local Workforce Investment Boards

Finally, the US WARN Act does not require an employer to notify an employee of plant relocation. The NY WARN Act does, however, require employers to provide notification of plant relocation. Notification is mandatory when it involves the removal of all or substantially all of the commercial operations of an employer to a location 50 miles away or more from the original plant.

Should I Sign a Severance Agreement After a Mass Layoff?

It is wise to speak with a skilled employment law attorney before signing a severance agreement. An employer that provides adequate notice required by the WARN Act may offer an employee two months of severance pay in a severance package. In these instances, employers are often hoping that the employee will accept the two months of payment in exchange for agreeing not to sue them for employment violations. 

Refraining from signing a severance agreement could result in a higher damage payment. For example, successful WARN Act claimants may receive compensation for more than two months of wages. Additionally, employees may have other valid legal claims against the employer that could result in more significant compensation. Consulting with the skilled mass layoff attorneys at Lipsky Lowe LLP could be extremely beneficial. We can analyze the proposed severance agreement and help you determine your best legal option for securing compensation. 

Contact Our Experienced New York Employment Law Attorneys

If you’ve lost your employment due to a mass layoff or a plant closure in New York, Lipsky Lowe LLP can help. The federal and New York WARN Acts provide some employees with a claim for damages when an employer fails to notify them of a mass layoff or plant closure properly. 

It is essential to hire skilled employment law attorneys to represent you in your claim. Employers often argue that their omission was in good faith or that they had reasonable grounds to fail to provide notice. Our experienced mass layoff attorneys know how to fight hard to prove that employers violated the US and NY WARN Acts. Contact our New York City employment law firm today to schedule your initial consultation. 

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