With Layoffs on the rise, it has put a palpable amount of pressure on workers around the country. Turning a season of cheer into one of stress and uncertainty. There are many laws that are in play that govern how an employer must go about a mass layoff. In this blog, I would like to go over a few of these laws.
It seems as if mass layoffs have been predominating on the news recently. By way of example, Meta has announced that it would be reducing its staff by about 13%, and let’s not forget that Twitter let go of approximately half of its staff. But they are not alone. Indeed, various major companies such as Peleton, Seagate, Go-Puff, Snap, and Microsoft, have all announced similar reductions. If you have been part of these unfortunate cutbacks, the very first thing you need to do is make sure that your rights were not violated in the process.
The first law that I would like to discuss is the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (“WARN Act”). Generally speaking, this applies to companies that have employed 100 or more employees, who have worked there more than six months, in the past 12 months. If the requirements of the WARN Act are triggered, then the employer must provide each covered employee with at least 60-day notice of when the layoff is set to occur. A failure to do so, may result in stiff penalties against the employer, and it may make you entitled to receive the wages you would have received in that 60-day period. Now, the tricky issue is that the WARN Act’s requirements are only triggered if certain elements are present.
Second, there is the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (“OWBPA”). As an amendment to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”) the OWBPA applies to all employers that employ 20 or more workers. If your employer is doing a group layoff, as defined, then it must provide workers over the age of 40 with certain protections. If there is a severance agreement, that agreement must contain: (1) a provision allowing the worker at least 45 days to consider the offer; (2) a benefit to which the worker is not already entitled to; and (3) a provision that allows that worker at least seven days to revoke their consent from the agreement. Moreover, the employer must also provide a list of who made the decision to terminate the employees, the factors used in determining who would be laid off, and a list of the individuals who were selected and not selected for the reduction with their position and age. A failure to adhere to these requirements may mean that any waiver found claims found within the severance agreement is void.
Third, one cannot forget about the promises that have already been made by the employer. Examples of this include severance obligations made in an employment contract. If an employer does not honor its promises it could lead to a breach of contract claim or one of several common law causes of actions. These causes of action can include promissory estoppel, fraud, quantum merit, and more.
Ultimately, when it comes to how a layoff situation will impact you it can be a daunting task. There are various laws at play that may be applicable in your situation. At Wiley Walsh, P.C. we specialize in employment, and we are more than happy to go over your situation so that we can assess what we are able to do for you. Feel free to contact us to schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys.