California Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act Lawyer

The California Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, also known as the California WARN Act, expands the requirements of the Federal WARN Act. The purpose of the act is to protect employees from mass layoffs, relocations, or termination at a covered establishment.

For purposes of this section:

"Mass layoff means a layoff during any 30-day period of 50 or more employees at a covered establishment.” Cal. Lab. Code § 1400(d).

"Relocation means the removal of all or substantially all of the industrial or commercial operations in a covered establishment to a different location 100 miles or more away.” Cal. Lab. Code § 1400(e).

"Termination means the cessation or substantial cessation of industrial or commercial operations in a covered establishment.” Cal. Lab. Code § 1400(f). For example, the closing of a plant would fall under this definition.

“Covered establishment means any industrial or commercial facility or part thereof that employs, or has employed within the preceding 12 months, 75 or more persons.” Cal. Lab. Code § 1400(a).

Employees’ Rights

The California WARN Act protects employees by requiring employers to provide notice to the employees in case of a mass layoff, a relocation, or a termination at a covered establishment. Cal. Lab. Code § 1401(a). The notice provided by the employer must be in writing and it must be given 60 days in advance of a mass layoff, a relocation or a termination at a covered establishment. Cal. Lab. Code § 1401(a).

How Does This Affect Employees’ Rights?

If an employer fails to give notice as required under California Labor Code § 1401, then the employer is liable to each employee who was entitled to notice who lost his or her employment for:

  • (1) “Back pay at the average regular rate of compensation received by the employee during the last three years of his or her employment, or the employee’s final rate of compensation, whichever is higher.” Cal. Lab. Code § 1402(a)
  • (2) “The value of the cost of any benefits to which the employee would have been entitled had his or her employment not been lost, including the cost of any medical expenses incurred by the employee that would have been covered under an employee benefit plan.” Cal. Lab. Code § 1402(a).

The employer’s liability under this section is “calculated for the period of the employer’s violation, up to a maximum of 60 days, or one-half the number of days that the employee was employed by the employer, whichever period is smaller.” Cal. Lab. Code § 1402(b).

In addition, under Section § 1404, a plaintiff who prevails in a civil action brought under this chapter may be awarded reasonable attorney’s fees.

For example: An employer decides to shut down a facility that has around 200 employees. However, the employer gives the employees only 2 weeks written notice. As a result, many of these employees are still looking for a job after the facility was shut down. Had the employer provided proper notice (60 days written notice), some of these employees may have had a form of employment by the time that the facility was closed. The California WARN Act protects employees under this type of situation. Employees are entitled to proper notice from their employers so that they can have a better chance of finding another job and so that they can be better prepared for the layoff. If you find yourself in a similar situation contact our office.

Contact Us

If you have been a part of a mass layoff, a relocation or a termination at a covered establishment and you have not been given appropriate notice, feel free to contact our office.