Slump in the Energy Industry Translates Into Layoffs. Are You Entitled to Advance Notice?

Don J. Foty
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Don Foty is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.
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Anyone who has worked in the oil and gas industry understands that this field is far from steady or stable. The jobs are often dangerous and require long hours and strenuous working conditions. In addition, the industry is subject to highs and lows according to current economic conditions. Currently, oil prices are falling, and the oil and gas industry is experiencing new lows in profits and employment figures as a result.

Job Losses Impact Texas Oil and Gas Workers

Unfortunately for workers in Texas, job losses are occurring throughout the state. An estimated 28,300 oil and gas jobs in the Oil Barrels With Falling Oil Price Graphstate have been terminated since December 2014. This downturn, amounting to approximately 7.7 percent, is a result of falling oil prices. The price of a barrel of oil has been cut in half since June 2014. The price has not been this low since 2009, when the company was deep in a recession.

Who suffers when oil prices drop? Unfortunately, it is often those living in oil-producing states that experience the most losses. In the United States, that means Alaska, North Dakota, Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana. Large companies such as Chevron and Royal Dutch Shell have already announced layoffs. Many smaller companies may follow suit if they have not already begun reducing their workforce.

How the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act May Help Texas Oil and Gas Workers Facing Layoffs

In many cases, it is the unexpected loss of a job that can have the harshest impact on employees and their families. The oil and gas industry was booming in recent years. Even though the industry as a whole has always been volatile, when times are good, people tend to forget that a downturn could be just around the corner. An unexpected layoff can leave a worker reeling. Fortunately for oil and gas workers, the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act was enacted to provide some level of protection from these unexpected layoffs. The Act requires that qualified workers receive adequate advanced written notice of the impending layoff. If they do not receive this advanced notice, workers can make a claim for pay and benefits. Who is eligible for the protections provided by the Act? The following is a general overview:

  • Employees working for companies with 100 or more employees.
  • Employees who have worked at least 6 of the past 12 months.
  • Employees who have worked more than 20 hours per week.
  • Employees who were not laid off as a result of their own fault, retirement, or quitting voluntarily.
  • Employees who were laid off for more than six months.
  • Employees who had their regular hours of work reduced by more than half during each month of a 6 month period.

The protections of the WARN Act apply regardless of whether you are a salaried or hourly employee. In addition, the WARN act applies in certain specific situations. These situations include:

  • Plant closings, where the employer shuts down a facility or operating unit within a single site of employment, and lays off 50 or more full-time workers in the process.
  • Mass layoffs, where the employer lays off between 50 and 499 full-time workers at a single site of employment, and that number is 33 percent of the number of full-time workers at the single site of employment.
  • Mass layoffs, where the employer lays off 500 or more full-time workers at a single site of employment.

If you are an eligible employee under the Act and you were laid off without notice as part of a plant closing or mass layoff, it is important to contact an attorney to protect your legal rights. You may be entitled to compensation for pay and benefits that are rightfully yours. We are here to provide the guidance you need to ensure you take advantage of the protections of the Act. We encourage you to reach out today for more information at (888) 449-2068.


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