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Layoffs 2009: Could The WARN Act Protect You?

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By Minara El-Rahman on November 16, 2009 10:12 AM

In recent news, employees of Premium Protein in Nebraska have filed a class action lawsuit that claims that the company violated their rights under the federal Worker Adjustment Retraining and Notification Act which is also known as WARN.

What is the WARN Act?

The WARN Act is a federal statute that has been enacted in order to protect workers and their families from mass layoffs or plant closings.

What Does It Require?

It requires that employers with more than 100 employees or more (not counting new employees, temporary ones, and part time employees) be subject to the Act.

The Act requires that employers must notify workers 60 calendar days before a plant closing or mass layoffs.

Which Workers Are Entitled to Notice?

Employees who are entitled to notice include, hourly, salaried, managerial, and supervisory employees.

According to the Lincoln Journal Star, the workers in the Nebraska meat packing plant claim that they were not given the requisite 60 calendar days before they were laid off. The company allegedly closed down its Lincoln and Hastings plants under the guise of "temporary" furloughs. The company would leave a recorded message every two weeks renewing the furloughs and claim that they were temporary.

Employees had worried that the furloughs were not temporary and were just a way to avoid the WARN Act.

Erin McDermott, Sara Villanueva and Linda Jarvis are the named plaintiffs, but there are 10 or 12 more former employees from the meat packing plant who have signed on to the suit.

The lawsuit claims that more than 500 former employees could qualify for WARN claims. The plaintiffs have sued for $3 million dollars.

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