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Understanding Your Employee Rights under the WARN Act

layoff notice.jpgDuring some point in time, you may lose a job or someone close to you may lose their job, and it has a significant impact on your lifestyle. Almost everyone will lose a job. There are many factors that lead to someone losing their job. The company can lay off workers because they are hemorrhaging money, the corporate office ordered the company to outsource operations overseas, or simply, the business just shut down because it was operating at a loss for quite some time.

Honestly, when an employee loses a job, they may not care why it happens; they may just be wondering what they are going to do next, especially when the economy is in a bad place and jobs are not very plentiful. However, there might be some light at the end of the tunnel. The federal government passed the Worker Adjustment & Retraining Notification Act, commonly referred to as the WARN Act. California, and many other states, passed similar versions of the WARN Act. These laws assist some employees by requiring employers to give advanced notice of the impending layoff, which helps them find new jobs, and in some cases, may offer training or retraining.

A Simplified Look At The WARN ACT

There are certain requirements that need to be met prior to filing a WARN Act claim or lawsuit.

  • First, you need to determine how many employees your employer employs. The federal WARN Act only applies to employers with 100 or more employees while the California WARN Act applies to employers with 75 or more employees.
  • Second, whether you file a claim under the federal or state WARN Act, you need to have been employed for at least six months out of the 12 months preceding the date of required notice.
  • Third, there is a timing element. Under the federal WARN Act, if your employer closed a plant, or laid off 50 - 499 full-time employees during a 30-day period, the employer is required to give notice. Likewise, under the California WARN Act, in the instance of plant closure, layoff or relocation of 50 or more employees, the employer is required to give notice.

Proper Notice under the WARN Act

If your employer is required to give notice, regardless if you are filing a state or federal claim, it has to be provided at a minimum of 60 days prior to plant closure or layoff. Exceptions to the notice requirement can be found here.


If your employer fails to provide you with proper notice, they could be liable for steep penalties. Under the federal WARN Act, you may be entitled to recover the equivalent to back pay and benefits for the period of the violation, up to sixty 60 days. Under the California WARN Act, your employer would be liable for a penalty of up to $500 per day for each violation, and you may also be able to pursue back pay and benefits as well.

Consult an Attorney

If you were recently part of a mass layoff and your employer failed to give you proper notice, you should contact an experienced San Jose employment law attorney who will be able to navigate the complexities the WARN Act presents, and get you the compensation you deserve.

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