WARN — Federal Layoff Laws Protect Arkansas Workers
Federal law protects workers from sudden layoffs through a statute called the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act. While many states have enacted similar statutes or even additional protections, Arkansas has not. Employees in Arkansas are only protected by this federal act.
The purpose of WARN is to provide advanced notice to employees who will be laid off. Covered Arkansas employees must be given at least 60 days’ notice before a mass layoff. Notice must include information about the expected start date of the layoffs and whether the company expects them to be permanent. In plants with unions, the company can inform the union instead of informing each individual employee.
WARN only applies in certain cases. Small employers are exempt from its requirements. The Act applies to companies who employ 100 or more full-time employees, or companies with at least 100 workers who work a combined 4,000 hours or more weekly.
The purpose of the Act is to provide notice in case of large layoffs or plant closings. Notice is not required when a handful of employees are let go. Instead, the law’s provisions apply in the following cases:
- A plant or worksite closing where at least 50 full-time workers will lose their jobs over the course of a month.
- A mass layoff where the company lets go of at least one third of their workforce at a single site, and the number of employees laid off was at least 50 people.
- A mass layoff at a single site where at least 500 people are laid off.
Special previsions prevent the employer from avoiding these requirements by spacing out layoffs. There are also provisions which protect the employer in cases of unavoidable circumstances such as natural disasters. WARN also requires employers to provide notification to the government, as Saint-Gobain did when temporarily closing their Fort Smith plant in 2015.
Employees who have had their rights violated under WARN can hire a Northwest Arkansas employment attorney to help them file a lawsuit in federal court. Employees who have been wronged may be entitled to wages for the number of days that the employer violated the Act. For example, if only 10 days of notice were given out of the required 60 days, employees could recover wages for the 50 lost days of worth of work. Legal fees are also awarded if your case is successful, so you take little to no risk in bringing this type of claim.
At James, Carter & Priebe, LLP, our Arkansas employment attorneys represent employees who have been wronged by violations of WARN and other employment laws. If you believe your employer didn’t provide adequate notice before a layoff, call us today at 866.716.3242 or contact us online. We serve clients in Rogers and Bentonville and throughout Northwest Arkansas.