The WARN Act (or Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act) is designed to give workers who work in certain locations for companies covered by the act a 60 day cushion before a round of mass layoffs. The problem is that many companies are now claiming that the nature of the current downturn has prevented them from providing the requisite notice because events transpired too quickly to allow the business to wait before performing layoffs.
Quoth the Law Blog:
Since the recession began in December 2007, the U.S. Department of Labor says 3.8 million people lost jobs in about 37,000 mass layoffs, which it defines as groups of 50 or more. In May, 312,880 workers were part of mass layoffs, the highest level on record.
Only a small portion appear to be receiving the two-month cushion. The most recent look by the Government Accountability Office, in 2003, showed that one-quarter of mass layoffs met all the conditions for a WARN filing. Of those cases, only about one-third of companies gave the proper notice. Companies file WARN notices with their states, and there is no national database.
So for small firms and solo attorneys, this could represent another new opportunity created by the recession.
Companies, Workers Tangle Over Law to Curb Layoffs (Wall Street Journal)