When an employer conducts a mass layoff or plant closure, advance notice must be sent to employees in accordance with the terms of the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act. There are certain limitations to the requirements of this Act, however. One such exception is where the mass layoff or plant closure occurs as a result of a natural disaster. It is important to note that while employers may not be responsible for strictly complying with the provisions of the Act in the event of a natural disaster, all obligations are not necessarily eliminated.
Eight Obligations of Employers Under the WARN Act After a Natural Disaster
What are an employer’s obligations with regard to the WARN Act following a natural disaster? The following is an overview:
- The plant closure or mass layoff must be a direct result of natural disaster. Natural disasters may include hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, droughts, storms, tidal wives, or other events caused by nature.
- The employer should still provide employees with as much notice as possible of the plant closure or mass layoff.
- The notice obligation still exists even if it comes after the natural disaster occurs.
- The employer may send the required notice to the employee’s last known address. This is true even if the employee’s home has been destroyed by the natural disaster.
- Employers who send notice to an employee’s last known address of the impending layoff or plant closure indicate good faith.
- While information about the layoff or plant closing may be limited, the notice should still be sent.
- If employment records are destroyed as a result of the natural disaster, the employer should try to show good faith by posting notices at the worksite or by providing notice in the newspaper. The notice should indicate that individual notice is not possible because employment records have been destroyed.
- If the employment records are not necessarily destroyed but the employer does not have access as a result of the natural disaster, the employer should act as if the records have been destroyed.
Even if your layoff occurred as a result of a natural disaster, you may still have legal rights. We are here to help. We encourage you to call us today at 888-449-2068 for more information.