If you have lost your job or experienced significantly reduced hours as part of a mass lay-off or plant closing without at least 60 days forward notice your employer may have violated the WARN Act.
The Suddenly Jobless Employees of ITT Tech
The recent closing of the ITT Tech for-profit school and subsequent employee lawsuit has brought to light a long-standing problem involving an employer’s duty to give forward warning before a mass layoff. As of August 25, 2017 the federal government declared that federal student loans could not be applied to ITT tuitions and as a result, the company decided to close its doors for good. However, they did not spend time preparing for this close in a stately and dignified fashion. Instead, they promptly let go all their employees, threw up their hands, and claimed ‘unforseen circumstances’. This dumped more than 8,000 people into unemployment without so much as an apology much less time to build their resumes and find new job security with a more responsible company. These employees have since banded together to file a lawsuit against the disgraced school on the grounds that they deserved a 60 day notice before the company closed its doors.
What is the WARN Act?
The WARN Act is an acronym for Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification. It requires any company with more than 100 employees performing a mass layoff or closing a location to give at least 60 days notice to both their employees and the local government before terminating or significantly reducing employment. For the employees, this provides them the chance to seek new work and/or training for a new position in order to avoid the unnecessary hardship of faultless sudden termination. This notice is equally important to local governments who will soon find themselves paying unemployment wages to 50 to 500+ new people who will be out of work.
What Qualifies As a WARN Act Violation?
First, a company must have more than 100 employees working more than 20 hour a week for more than 6 months of the last fiscal year. Next, the company must have laid off either more than 500 employees or 50 or more employees if they make up at least a third of the company’s workforce. They must also fulfill WARN requirements when closing a plant (business location) with 50 or more employees without sufficient notice. While dropping this many employees into unemployment is allowed if their project or location was classified as temporary or ‘until-completion’, companies are not allowed to label an ongoing project ‘temporary’ after the fact just to avoid WARN requirements.
What Qualifies as a Layoff?
Most people understand being laid off as the equivalent of a faultless firing, in which you are suddenly out of work through no fault of your own, however, the WARN act also protects employees who find themselves in somewhat more conditional loss of employment. For instance, if your employer intends to bring back a large number or location-worth of employees after 30 days or more, they have been officially laid off and qualify for a WARN act notification. Likewise, if your employer reduces everyone’s hours to 50% or less of your previous monthly time for any 6-month period, they are required to give you the 60 days warning.
Holding Employers Responsible
If your employer has left you and many of your coworkers out in the wind without proper notice, you don’t have to let them get away with it. Whether they’re stringing you along with vague promises of future work, have cut your hours to unsurvivable minimums, or have let you go completely, you can band together with your fellow victims and hold them accountable as violators of the WARN Act. Here at Aiman-Smith & Marcy, we specialize in class-action suits, defending everyday citizens against the brazen mistreatment of large corporations. Whether you have found yourself in this situation or know someone who has, contact us today and we’ll do our best to get you the compensation you deserve.