While falling oil prices are a great for folks filling up their vehicles, it has an unfortunate effect for those working in the oil fields in Texas, Oklahoma, and surrounding areas. These workers are currently facing mass layoffs and thus a loss of income. The national law firm of Godsey Martin wants energy industry employees to know they may have rights under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN). If proper notice of a layoff is not provided, an employee may be able to pursue statutory damages against the employer.
The WARN Act, which was enacted on February 4, 1989, requires employers to give employees a 60-day advance notice in the event of mass layoffs. In general, the WARN Act applies to companies that have 100 or more employees. Private, non-profit and for-profit employers are covered, as are certain public and quasi-public entities. Local, state and federal government entities that deliver public services are exempted from the act.
Layoff notices are designed to protect employees by providing them with an adjustment period where they can either find new work or obtain training to prepare them for a career in another field. Salaried and hourly workers, in addition to supervisory and managerial employees, are entitled to notice under the act.
The act dictates that an employer must provide notice if it plans to shut down an operating unit or facility, and that shutdown will lead to layoffs of 50 employees or more within 30 days. Notice must be provided if layoffs are to exceed six months, or if an employee’s work hours will be reduced by more than 50 percent in each month of a six-month period. There are several technical aspects to the WARN Act, so it is important that employees who are laid off without receiving proper notice speak with an attorney as soon as possible.
Key Points of the WARN Act
- Protects workers, their families, and communities facing mass layoffs or plant closures.
- Covers hourly and salaried workers, as well as managerial and supervisory employees.
- Notice must be given sixty (60) days before a layoff or plant closure.
- Provides financial compensation.