Mass Lay-Offs and the WARN Act (federal and Illinois)
Were you recently laid-off or terminated (or notified that this is to occur shortly) as part of a mass lay-off or plant shut-down? If you received no prior written notice of the lay-off, or if you were only provided a short lay-off notice (less than 60 days), then your rights under the federal Workers Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (29 U.S.C. Section 2101) (“The WARN Act) may have been violated.
Generally speaking, the WARN Act requires larger employers (100 or more employees) to notify their workers - in writing - 60 days before implementing a mass lay-off, plant closing, or facility shut-down. Illinois also has its own WARN Act (that only requires that there be 75 or more employees).
Employees who are laid off as a result of a plant shut-down or a mass lay-off may be entitled to compensation beyond what severance (if any) the Employer is offering, such as:
- 60 days notice (and/or the corresponding 60 days pay)
Be aware that some employers attempt to avoid their responsibilities under the WARN Act by tricking their employees into signing severance agreements (containing general releases) that provide less (often far less) than the 60 days pay that the employees are entitled to under the WARN Act.
- if you sign such a severance agreement and general release (even if it does not specifically list the WARN Act), this may result in you waiving your right to the 60 days WARN Act pay.
- so if your Employer delivers a severance agreement and general release to you - and in particular if it provides you with less than 60 days pay - please call me ASAP before you sign such a severance agreement to discuss whether you may have a viable WARN Act claim.
Also be aware that some Employers give little or no notice (such as 1 week notice or to the end of the month) of a mass lay-off or a plant shut-down, with their blaming such lack of notice on things such as Chicago raising the minimum wage rate, and claiming “unforeseeable business circumstances”. While there indeed are some exceptions to the 60 days notice/ pay WARN Act requirements, frequently the Employer’s claimed reason for this lack of notice is not valid and in fact does not avoid its responsibilities to you under the WARN Act.
I am well-familiar with the WARN Act, and the many tricks that employers attempt to use to avoid their responsibilities (and your rights), and with a short phone call I will be able to tell if your situation is one where your Employer may be violating the WARN Act.
If you have been, or are about to be, laid off as a result of a plant shut-down or a mass lay-off, and your Employer did not provide you with 60 days written notice/ pay then that may very well be a violation of the WARN Act, and you may be entitled to additional pay/ compensation.
Call me to briefly discuss if you have a potentially viable claim under the WARN Act (federal or Illinois), and if it makes sense for you to come in for an appointment to my Chicago loop office to further discuss your employment situation.