In addition to unemployment insurance, the law provides additional protections and benefits to those who lose employment because of a restructuring, group layoffs, or reduction in force (“RIF”). There are numerous laws that apply in these situations and that depend on such factors as company size and whether severance is being offered or not. Quite often, employers fail to handle RIFs correctly. This presents potential opportunities to secure a better severance package or liability for improper terminations.
If you lose your job because of a RIF, employers may offer a severance package for you to consider. In those circumstances, the law requires that you be provided 45 days to review the severance and there must be a variety of very specific provisions in the agreement. If you are offered a severance, please click here for more information.
For employers of 100 or more employees, the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN Act) imposes additional protections upon employers engaging in a plant closing or a “mass layoff” as defined by WARN.
In general, your employer must time the notice so that it reaches you 60 days before the closing or layoff date. The exceptions are when your employer is a “faltering company,” in the case of unforeseeable business circumstances, and in the event of a natural disaster. The requirement of 100 or more employees does not count employees who have worked for fewer than six of the last 12 months, and it does not count employees who work fewer than 20 hours per week.
The WARN Act is intended to give workers and families time to adjust to losing the income from employment, get another job, and enter any needed skills training or retraining programs. Managers, supervisors, hourly wage workers, and salaried workers are covered by the WARN Act, as are labor unions, locally elected chief officials, and state dislocated worker units.
The lawyers at WLG are here to help you navigate the difficult process of being laid off as part of a RIF. We can assist to ensure that the employer is complying with the law, evaluate your specific termination, and advise about potential leverage and ability to maximize your severance package.
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