Q. Have any courts addressed companies’ obligations under the WARN Act, particularly in light of COVID-19?
A. Yes. Since COVID-19 was first confirmed in the United States more than two years ago, employers have faced many challenges, including, in some cases, the difficult decision to lay off or furlough employees. This decision has not been without legal implications. For example, depending on a variety of factors, companies that lay off employees may be required to provide written notice of the layoff under the Workers Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act and similar state law. Specifically, the WARN Act requires employers to provide written notice to workers at least 60 calendar days ahead of “plant closings” or “mass layoffs.” The WARN Act defines a plant closing as the permanent or temporary shutdown of a single site of employment, or one or more facilities or operating units within a single site of employment, if the shutdown results in an employment loss at the single site of employment during any 30-day period for 50 or more employees (excluding part-time employees). The WARN Act defines a mass layoff as a reduction in force that does not result from a plant closing, and results in an employment loss at the single site of employment during any 30-day period for: (1) at least 50-499 employees if they represent at least 33% of the total active workforce (excluding part-time employees) or (2) 500 or more employees (excluding part-time employees).