Under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (“WARN”) employers with more than 100 employees are required to give 60 days’ advance written notice of impending layoffs. Notice must be given in the event of a plant closing or mass layoff, both of which are specifically defined in the statute.
An employer need not give 60 days’ advance notice in three narrow exceptions: (1) Faltering company – which covers situations where a company has sought new capital or business to stay open and where giving notice would ruin the opportunity to get the new capital or business, and applies only to plant closings; (2) Unforeseeable business circumstances – which applies to closings and layoffs that are caused by business circumstances that were not reasonably foreseeable at the time notice would otherwise have been required; and (3) Natural disaster – which applies where a closing or layoff is the direct result of a natural disaster, such as a flood, earthquake, drought or storm.
If an employer is giving less than 60 days’ notice under one of the three exceptions, the notice must include, among other mandated information, a brief statement of the reason for reducing the notice period. As indicated by a recent ruling in the bankruptcy case of the law firm of Dewey & LeBoeuf, telling employees that layoffs in 5 days are required because of “extraordinary circumstances” facing the firm is NOT a sufficient “brief statement” to justify less than 60 days’ notice. http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2014/04/14/ruling-weakens-deweys-defense-to-former-employee-class-action/
More information about Warn can be found here: