What Rights Do Employees Have During Layoffs? | BKL Lawyers

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What Rights Do Employees Have During Layoffs?

Posted August 8, 2022 | Employment Law

No one wants to be laid off from their job. However, this is sometimes unavoidable and a part of many people’s professional lives. While being without a job and having to find new employment is difficult for anyone, employees throughout New York do have some protections when this happens. New York State and New York City have laws that provide extensive protections to employees, and these protections also apply to layoffs.

Learn more about the rights that you may be entitled to if your employer is conducting layoffs.

Federal and NY State WARN Acts

Fortunately for many employees, being laid off may not come as a total surprise, leaving you without an income immediately. Instead, the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act and New York State’s WARN Act require that employers give their employers notice of layoffs in some cases.

Under the federal WARN Act, employers with 100 or more employees must give 60 days’ notice for the following:

  • A permanent or temporary plant closing where 50 or more employees, with the exception of those working less than 20 hours a week, will lose their jobs during a 30-day period.
  • A mass layoff at a single employment site where 500 or more employees, excluding those working less than 20 hours a week, are laid off or 50 to 499 employees, excluding those working fewer than 20 hours a week, if the laid-off employees are at least one-third of the employer’s active workforce, are laid off during a 30 day period.

Employers who fail to give notice when required employees can collect wages and benefits for each day the notice is late for up to 60 days.

However, New York’s WARN Act provides more protections than federal law. New York’s WARN Act applies to employers with at least 50 employees and requires them to give 90 day’s notice in the following situations:

  • Closings that affect 25 or more employees.
  • Mass layoffs that affect 25 or more full-time employees, if those 25 or more employees make up at least 33% of all the employees at the site.
  • Mass layoffs involving 250 or more full-time employees
  • Certain relocations.

Employers may be required to provide back pay and other benefits for up to 60 days of the violation.

Both the federal and New York WARN Acts have exceptions. The federal and state WARN Acts provide exceptions for unforeseeable business circumstances, natural disasters, and, in some cases, when the company is struggling financially.

Federal, State, and Local Anti-Discrimination Laws

Most employees are at will, meaning that they can be terminated at any time for any reason. However, employees cannot be terminated for illegal reasons, even if they are at will. Because of this, layoff criteria cannot be based on discrimination. However, this does still occur. For example, some layoffs may disproportionately affect older employees. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission advises that employers review their process to help ensure that one protected group is not more affected by the layoffs than others.

Get Help Protecting Your Employee Rights

Layoffs don’t mean that your employer can violate your rights. As an employee in New York City, there are many employment laws that protect you in the workplace. When these rights are violated, you need someone dedicated to defending and upholding them.

Contact the employee rights attorneys of Brown Kwon & Lam today if you’ve experienced a workplace violation.

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