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What the WARN Act Means for Employees

By Thomas McKinney

There are a number of federal laws in place that grant key protections to promote the best interests of workers across the U.S. The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act is one such law. In the most basic sense, the WARN Act grants protections to employees in the case of a sudden loss of employment. The Act requires employers to provide their employees with notice in advance of such a layoff. Let’s take a closer look at what the WARN Act means for employees.

What the WARN Act Means for Employees

While there is no federal prohibition on employers shutting down their operations, there may be relevant federal laws that come into play in such situations. Employers may have the right to shut down, downsize, or relocate, but they may also have an obligation under federal law to provide proper notice to employees of such a significant action. This is where the WARN Act comes in. It is, at its core, a notice law. 

Under the WARN Act, employers must provide employees with adequate notice when there will be a loss of employment. The WARN Act defines a loss of employment as a layoff lasting at least six months or a working hour reduction of at least 50% within six months of employment termination. The requirements of the WARN Act allow employees to be adequately notified and, thus, more prepared, when loss of employment is on the horizon.

The WARN Act does not, however, apply in every situation where an employee will experience a loss of employment. The Act itself does not apply to employees who have worked at the company less than 6 months or who have worked part time for 20 hours or less each week. Employers are required to provide employees with at least 60 days of notice if they plan on laying off 500 or more employees who have been working on-site for a minimum of 30 days. If a business is sold, or parts of the company are transferred to someone else, then the employer will need to provide employees with 60 days’ notice. It should be noted that the WARN Act applies to companies with over 100 active, full-time employees. This is true whether the company is a non-profit, private, or public.

If an employer fails to comply with the WARN Act requires and, thus, fails to provide an employee with adequate notice, the employer may be ordered to pay damages to the employee who experienced job loss without the requisite notice. Damages could include compensation for back pay as well as benefits that the employee would have been entitled to during the period of time the employer was in violation of the WARN Act.

Employment Law Attorneys

Have you experienced an unexpected job loss where you should have been provided with notice under the WARN Act? Now is the time to look into your legal options. The team at Castronovo & McKinney is here to help. Contact us today.

About the Author
Tom McKinney is an experienced NJ Employment Lawyer in all major areas of labor and employment law, including discrimination, harassment, overtime violations, wage and hour claims, sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, Title VII, ADA, ADEA, FMLA, LAD, FLSA, and all other employment law claims. Tom is admitted to practice in the States of New Jersey and New York, United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Southern District of New York, District of New Jersey, and United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Prior to forming the firm, Tom practiced at Gibbons P.C. in Newark, NJ. If you have any questions regarding this article, contact Tom here today.