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Wrongful Termination Law: What is the California WARN Act?

Wrongful Termination Law: What Is The California WARN Act?

The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN Act) is a California state law that provides some important legal protections to employees who are facing the prospect of mass layoffs at their company. California’s Warn Act adds to protections already found in the federal version of the law.


At Wagner Zemming Christensen LLP, our legal team wants to make sure that all workers know their rights and options under state and federal law. Many employees at large companies are entitled notice if mass layoffs are planned. Here, our Riverside wrongful termination lawyers discuss the California Warn Act.


Your Guide to the California Warn Act


The California Warn Act exists to protect employees who are enduring mass terminations or plant closures by making sure that they receive as much notice as reasonably possible. The law applies to many large companies and organizations that have significant operations in our state. Here are four key things to know about your rights under the California Warn Act:


  1. California Warn Act Coverage: Not all employers are covered by the California Warn Act. Under state law, a “covered establishment” is defined as a company that has employed 75 workers (full-time or part-time) in the last 12 months. To be counted, a worker must have been employed for a minimum period of six months during this time. Notably, California’s Warn Act applies to more companies than does the federal Warn Act.
  2. Employer Requirements: All employers covered by the California Warn Act must provide a minimum of 60 days notice to affected employees and to government regulators when they conduct mass layoffs—including plant closures and facility relocations. California state law considers a restructuring to be a mass layoff if 50 or more jobs are being cut within a one-month period.
  3. Warn Act Notice: A California Warn Act notice should provide comprehensive information to affected employees. More specifically, workers are entitled to know the dates of the layoffs, the totality of the positions being impacted by the layoffs, the company’s future plans for all implicated positions, and contact details for a company representative who can provide additional information.
  4. Employee Remedies: If you were not treated fairly under the California Warn Act, you may be entitled to financial relief. More specifically, an employee should receive back wages for each day of the Warn Act violation—up to a maximum of 60 days. As an example, a Warn Act claim was brought against a Southern California shipyard operator in 2017 (Internat. Brotherhood of Boilermakers etc. v. NASSCO etc.). The company allegedly let go of nearly 100 workers without providing any notice. In the end, a court ordered the firm to pay approximately $210,000 in back wages and lost benefits to affected workers.


To be clear, pursuing relief for a California Warn Act violation does not foreclose on your ability to take additional legal action against an employer. In fact, the details provided (or that should have been provided) in a Warn Act notice could give you the information you need to initiate a wrongful termination lawsuit. If you feel that you were removed on unlawful grounds—discrimination, retaliation, etc.—you should consult with a Riverside wrongful termination lawyer. You may have additional remedies available through an employment law claim.


Note: In March of 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom temporarily suspended certain Warn Act requirements for COVID-19 related shutdowns. Learn more here: Executive Order N-31-20.


Call Our Riverside, CA Wrongful Termination Attorneys Today


At Wagner Zemming Christensen LLP, our Riverside employment lawyers have deep experience handling wrongful termination claims. If you think that your rights were breached under the Warn Act,  we can help. Contact our firm now for a strictly confidential consultation. Our employment law attorneys handle wrongful termination claims throughout the region, including in Pomona, Fontana, Peris, Moreno Valley, and Beaumont.

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