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Federal Court Allows WARN Act Class Action By Remote Employees

A federal court has ruled that people who work from home can sue their employer under the WARN Act for failure to notify them of a mass layoff. This ruling, made by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, is a potential advance for remote employees who suddenly find themselves laid off by employers. For employers, however, it is a warning sign that moving employees to a remote work schedule does not free them from their legal obligations to those employees.

What is the WARN Act?

The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (“WARN”) Act is a law that sets standards for employers that find themselves needing to close worksites or engage in mass layoffs. Under the WARN Act, employers must give employees at least sixty days’ notice before any mass layoff from a single site of employment. This gives employees an opportunity to find other employment, and prevents them from being caught off guard from being suddenly fired without cause.

What is the Case Being Argued?

The case before the court was Piron v. General Dynamics Information Technology Inc. In this case, employees of the defendant employer were given the opportunity to work from home or in the office through the company’s Flexible Work Location policy. Employees, in fact, regularly moved from location to location. However, the employees in the case were all suddenly laid off without the required sixty-day warning, leading them to become jobless without any chance to seek other employment.

What Was the Argument?

The employees sought class action certification to sue their employer in a single case, alleging their employer had violated the WARN Act by failing to give adequate notice of their layoffs. The employer argued, among other things, that they had no obligation to give their employees advance warning due to the requirement that the mass layoffs originate from a “single site of employment.” However, the court agreed with the plaintiffs, citing a provision of the WARN Act that covered railroad workers, bus drivers, and other workers who regularly travel as part of their jobs. As a result, the class action was certified, and the case will move forward.

How Could This Affect Other Cases?

In the post-COVID world, more workers are working from home than ever before, and this case is a sign that employers should take care to respect employment law, even with remote workers. If you have suffered due to an employer’s violation of the law, do not wait. Contact a lawyer with experience handling labor and employment law cases, who can help you to obtain compensation for any harm you have suffered.

If you have gotten into a legal dispute with your employer, it is important that you seek the guidance of an experienced New York employment lawyer who can protect your legal rights and advocate on your behalf. Steven Mitchell Sack, the Employee’s Lawyer, is a New York employment lawyer with more than 41 years’ experience handling the many aspects of employment law. To schedule an appointment with New York City employment lawyer Steven Mitchell Sack, call (917) 371-8000 or visit his contact page.

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