Understanding California Labor Laws and the WARN Act

Created in 1988, the Federal Employee Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (‘WARN” Act) requires employers to inform their employees at the least sixty days previous to a mass layoff or closing of a plant. The legislation is meant to supply workers ample time to search out work earlier than being laid off, or to make different preparations prematurely of their upcoming separation of employment.A number of states, together with California, have totally different variations of the WARN Act in addition to different California labor legal guidelines The California WARN Act was established in January, 2003 and expands the obligations of the Federal Act.The California Act differs from the Federal Act in numerous methods. For instance:
The California Act applies to layoffs that have an effect on 50 or extra workers inside a 30-day interval, no matter what share these workers comprise of the entire workforce. For instance, a 600 worker firm shedding 60 workers (solely 10% of the workforce) would nonetheless be topic to California WARN. The Federal Warn Act defines a “mass layoff” as a layoff of 50 or extra workers that comprise at the least of 1/three of the whole workforce (or 500 workers no matter share).
California WARN applies to companies that make use of 75 or extra workers, whereas the Federal WARN applies to companies with greater than 100 workers.
The California Act applies to part-time workers along with full-time workers, whereas the Federal Act solely applies to full-time workers.
Collins v. Gee West SeattleA latest court docket resolution highlights the complexity of the WARN Act, and the way a misinterpretation of the legislation just isn’t a viable protection by an employer who violates it. On January 21, 2011, the Ninth Circuit Court docket of Appeals dominated in Collins v. Gee West Seattle that workers who stop after being notified of the approaching shutting of operations, however previous to the precise closure, are nonetheless thought of in the direction of the minimal depend of 50 workers.In September, 2007 Gee West Seattle, an auto franchise with 150 workers, notified its employees that it will be shutting the enterprise in 10 days. By the point they closed their doorways, solely 30 workers remained, a web lack of 120 workers. A number of workers later sued Gee West claiming their employer had violated the WARN Act by not offering the minimal 60 days discover required by the legislation.Gee West argued that solely 30 workers remained on the time of the closure, and that each one the prior workers had left their jobs of their very own free will. Gee West claimed the WARN Act didn’t apply to their closure, and subsequently weren’t required to supply 60 days discover.Of their resolution, the Ninth Circuit dominated in opposition to Gee West and said that workers who stop after being notified that they are going to be laid off will not be thought of “voluntarily departing”, however quite terminated workers as a part of the shutting of operations.The Court docket mentioned that Gee West must show that the workers left for causes aside from upcoming closure, and in need of doing so, can be discovered responsible of violating WARN.In ConclusionThis lawsuit, like so many others, reinforces that employers can not declare “ignorance” as a protection in opposition to violating the legislation. The burden of proof lies with the employer to show their innocence, and the courts will invariably rule in favor of the workers the place the legislation has been violated, and the employer can not show in any other case. One other conclusion is that California labor legal guidelines differ from the federal legal guidelines in might methods, and employers should be extra diligent of their compliance on this state.For assist with understanding the WARN Act, or another State or Federal legislation, please contact considered one of our California Human Sources Consultants who can help you.