Investigating Violation of WARN Acts

The federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act ("WARN Act") is meant to protect workers and their families by requiring employers to provide 60 days notice prior to a plant closing or mass layoff. There are also state law equivalents that, in many cases, provide additional and greater protections to employees who were terminated.

The WARN Act applies to companies that employ 100 or more employees who have worked at least 6 of the last 12 months and regularly work more than 20 hours per week. Managers, supervisors, hourly, and salaried workers are all entitled to notice under the WARN Act.

There are two main events that will trigger entitlement to WARN Act notice: 1) a plant closing; or 2) a mass layoff. Both apply to a single site of employment. A plant closing is when a facility is shut down for 6 months or more, or when 50 or more employees lose their jobs during a 30-day period at a single site of employment. A mass layoff is when an employer lays off either more than 500 employees or at least 33% of the workforce when the layoff affects between 50-499 employees. The mass layoff must also be for 6 months or more.

If an employer fails to provide the proper notice required by the WARN Act, it may be liable to each employee for an amount equal to back pay plus benefits for the period of the violation, which is up to 60 days. The employer can reduce its liability by giving notice or making voluntary payments to the employee.

Many employers are asking employees to sign releases or waivers when they are laid off, including releasing potential claims the employee may have against the employer. Employees should be aware that these releases might release their WARN Act claims.

If you have recently been laid off and did not receive 60-days advance notice, you might be entitled to damages pursuant to the WARN Act. To talk with the attorneys at Stueve Siegel Hanson, please contact our Kansas City law office toll free at 1.800.714.0360 and someone from our office will contact you.

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