WARN ACT Mass Layoffs / Plant Closings


The Federal WARN Act and Cal-WARN Act Protections

If you are one of fifty (50) or more employees that were laid off at once, in a mass layoff; or had your plant shutdown, you are entitled to a specific WARNING under both California and Federal law.  WARN protects employees, their families, and communities by requiring that employers provide at least 60-days’ advance written notice.

Advance notice provides employees and their families time to transition and adjust to the prospective loss of employment, time to seek alternative jobs and, if necessary, time to obtain skills training or retraining to successfully compete in the job market.

  • A “plant closing” is a permanent or temporary shutdown of either a single work site or of one or more facilities or operating units on a single site, if the shutdown results in loss of employment by 50 or more full-time employees in a 30-day period.
  • A “mass layoff” is a reduction in force at a single site that results in loss of employment during a 30-day period of (a) at least 33% of the full-time employees and at least 50 full-time employees, or (b) 500 full-time employees.

The federal WARN Act applies to employers with 100 or more employees.  Under federal law, the lay-offs must be 33% of the overall workforce and plant closures must affect 50 or more employees.

Cal-WARN applies to companies with 75 or more employees.   Under California law, any plant closing requires a WARN Notice as does laying off 50 or more employees, regardless of the percentage of the total workforce affected.

An employer who fails to give the required notice is liable for up to 60 days’ of back pay for each affected employee, lost benefits, including the cost of medical expenses that would have been covered under an employee benefit plan, civil penalties, and reasonable attorneys’ fees.

Additionally, in California, employers must file a copy of the WARN notice with the Employment Development Department (“EDD”), so that the EDD may notify their Rapid Response Team to reach out to affected employees with access to job search databases and other valuable resources.  As the EDD tells employers on its public website, “the processing of a WARN notice activates the local Rapid Response team.”  Thus, it is very important that employers comply with these requirements.  You can also check the EDD website for a list of filed WARN notices.

Unfortunately, when mass lay-offs happen that affect 50 or more people, or when plants shut down, too often the employees are the last to know.  This deprives both the employees and the State of the ability to adequately prepare for the many consequences of mass lay-offs and plant closings.

If your employer failed to give you the proper WARN notice before a mass lay-off or plant closing, contact Vision Legal, Inc., immediately and speak with a lawyer who understands mass lay-off and plant closing laws and can help you start looking out for yourself and your legal rights.