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What is the WARN Act?

On Behalf of | Jun 26, 2019 | Firm News

Allegheny County employment lawyers advise clients on their employment rights.

The federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act applies to certain employers and requires notice to employees if there is a mass layoff. Like many laws, details are vital when an employee is trying to determine whether their employer’s actions fall under the protections of the WARN Act and what benefits the employee could receive as a result.

Employees should be aware that only larger employers are covered under the WARN Act. To qualify as an employer under the WARN Act, the employer must have at least 100 full-time workers. Employers with 100 employees who work a combined 4,000 hours or more per week would also qualify. Under the law, a full-time employee is defined as a person who works at least 20 hours per week and has been under employment with that organization for a minimum of six out of the last 12 months before the notice of the layoff.

Qualifying Layoffs and Plant Closings Under the WARN Act

Not every layoff requires notice under the WARN Act. The Act will be triggered if the layoff consists of:

  • Five hundred or more full-time employees
  • Between 50 and 499 full-time employees if the layoff accounts for at least 33 percent of the employer’s active workforce
  • For mass layoffs, they can happen as a series over a 30-day period and still qualify
  • In a plant closing, layoffs can occur within the 30-day period. If the closing effects more than 50 workers, employees may still be afforded protection under the Act.

Some ways employers try to get around the WARN Act is by encouraging employees to either retire or resign to reduce the number of layoffs to be below the triggering threshold.  Also, if the employer transfers employees to another location within the company, it must be within reasonable commuting distance for the employee to not qualify for notice under the WARN Act. The issue of what qualifies as a reasonable commuting distance has not been clearly defined under the WARN Act, however, certain factors will be determined, such as travel time and geographic accessibility.

Required Notice

Under the WARN Act, employers must give at least a 60-day notice of the covered layoff or plant closing. There are exceptions to this rule, including if an employee is part of a union; individual notice is not required if notice is provided to the union representatives. However, if an employer does not notify the employee or proper entity for a full 60 days before the layoff, they could be held liable for a WARN Act violation.

Allegheny County Employment Lawyers at AlpernSchubert P.C. Advise Clients on Their Employment Rights

If you lost your job as a result of a layoff, the Allegheny County employment lawyers at AlpernSchubert P.C. can assess your case to determine if you have any potential causes of action against your former employer. Call us today at 412-765-1888 or contact us online to set up a free consultation. Located in Pittsburgh, we represent employees from Allegheny County, Washington County, Lawrence County, and throughout western Pennsylvania.