The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act of 1988, 29 U.S.C. § 2101 et seq. (the “WARN Act”), is a federal law that requires covered employers (generally those with 100 or more employees) to provide advance notice of at least 60 calendar days prior to any plant closing or mass layoff. The terms “plant closing” and “mass layoff” are specifically defined by the statute. The failure to comply with the WARN Act’s requirements can expose an employer to significant risk. There are also similar notice requirements under Florida law with which employers must comply.
Employers who violate the WARN Act’s requirements could be liable to the affected employees for back pay for each day of the violation. The rate of compensation cannot be less than the higher of the average regular rate received by the affected employees during the last three years of the employees’ employment or the final regular rate received by the employees. 29 U.S.C. § 2104(a)(1).
A plaintiff bears the initial burden of proving that there was a plant closing or mass layoff as defined by the WARN Act, and that the organization employed at least 50 employees, excluding part-time employees, as of the snapshot date to trigger the WARN Act’s mandatory notice provision. Part-time employees are defined as those who average fewer than 20 hours of work per week or who have been employed for fewer than six of the two months preceding the date on which notice is required. 29 U.S.C. § 2101(a)(8).