On September 26th, 2007, a car dealership with multiple franchise locations announced it would be closing its doors in two weeks – and this drove away 80% of its employees within 10 days.
Even though the employer, Gee West Seattle LLC, was left with only 30 employees by closing time, a court decided they had violated the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act by not distributing the proper WARN notification.
The WARN Act affects mass layoffs and plant closings – here are the basics:
- If a plant closing or layoff will affect 50 or more employees, the employer must give each “affected employee” a 60-day written notice
- An “affected employee” is someone who will most likely experience an “employment loss” due to the layoff or closure.
- Under the WARN Act, an “employment loss” is any “employment termination, other than a discharge for cause, voluntary departure, or retirement.”
The court ruling further defines “voluntary departure” in the WARN Act. Now, employees who stop showing up to work after a plant closing or impending layoffs are announced can still be counted as employees when measured against WARN Act notice requirements – because they didn’t really leave voluntarily.