In 1988, the U.S. Congress passed the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN Act). This law, which took effect in 1989, was aimed at protecting workers in the manufacturing industry from sudden and massive layoffs. Under the law, companies who plan to shut down or reduce labor at a particular location must give 60-day advance notice and attempt to curtail sudden mass layoffs. This 60-day advance notice gives workers and their families the ability to adjust to impending job loss and a reasonable amount of time to seek other employment before layoffs go into effect.
Under 29 U.S.C. §§ 2101 to 2109 and 20 C.F.R. §§ 639.1 to 639.10, a business that employees more than 100 full-time workers must comply with the WARN Act and give a 60-day notice of layoffs if:
- More than 50 full-time employees are laid off at a single site AND
- The number of layoffs constitutes more than 33% of the total workforce at that site
In 2015, 77 WARN Act notices were filed with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (D.E.O.). Some of these companies filed notice even though they did not meet the minimum threshold to trigger the Act. Here are some examples of North Florida companies who gave D.E.O. notice of mass layoffs:
CACIISS, Inc. – Jacksonville – Scientific & Technology – 51 employees affected
InoMedic Health Applications, Inc – Kennedy Space Center – Health Services – 172 employees affected
Flexsteel Pipeline Technologies, Inc.– Panama City – Manufacturing – 76 employees affected
United Airlines, Inc. – Jacksonville – Transportation & Warehousing – 66 employees affected
Chase Mortgage Banking – Jacksonville – Finance & Customer Service – 163 employees affected
The WARN Act does not penalize an employer if the layoffs are caused by natural disasters, unforeseen business circumstances or if the faltering company has made a good faith effort to seek capital or otherwise avoid site closures. The most common exemption comes from businesses that file for bankruptcy. In all of these cases, the employer is granted exemption from the full 60-day notice provision of the WARN Act if they have evidence of one or more of the mitigating factors previously listed.
This law does often does not protect employees at most retail locations or restaurant franchises due to the very high threshold of employment needed to trigger the Act. Many of these types of employers have a large number of part-time employees that will enable them to avoid liability under the WARN Act.
If you are affected by a mass layoff and believe your employer is in violation of federal law, the attorneys of Massey & Duffy may be able to assist you in your claim. Our Employment & Labor attorneys have successfully recovered settlements for employees who have had their rights violated under FLSA, FMLA, and WARN. Call our office today at (352) 505-8900 to receive a FREE CONSULTATION.