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What You Need to Know if You’ve been Laid Off during a Pandemic

June 22nd, 2020 Stephanie Jackson

WARN ACT laid off

Due to the coronavirus, many companies had massive layoffs and closures. Employees are asking, “How much notice am I supposed to get before I’m laid off?” or “As an employee, how much notice am I supposed to get about business closures?”


In 1989, a national law was passed that required employers to give 60 days notice to employees before massive layoffs, closures, and relocations if the company consisted of at least 100 employees. New York State expanded on this initiative with the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act. Under this Act, employers must notify their employees 90 days before a relocation, massive layoff, or closure occurs if their business has more than 50 employees. The Act also requires employers to give 90 days’ notice when 33% or more employees are laid off or if 250 workers are laid off from a single employment site. The notification must also be sent to their representatives, the state labor department, and local workforce investment partners. Failure of an employer to provide this notice will result in the Commissioner of Labor enforcing civil penalties. The civil penalties are usually $500 per day of the violation. So, if an employee was given 60 days notice, he or she could receive $15,000 in civil penalties. Employers may also be liable for payback and benefits to the staff. 

What the WARN Act Provides

The WARN Act allows employees and their families more time to transition and find another job. The act also provides local governments with an opportunity to place onsite help to the employees impacted by the layoff, relocation, or closure. Onsite help includes access to career fairs, resumé building programs, job market information, and much more. This added relief effort helps employees navigate the job market and quickly find a position that fits their skills.  


New York State realizes that there are certain situations where an employer might not be able to give 90 days notice. These situations include government-mandated closures, the loss of your workforce due to school closings, or other specific circumstances due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Department of Labor reviews each coronavirus-related filing and determines whether or not the exception should apply. However, the WARN Act has not been officially suspended during the pandemic.

Seek Legal Assistance Today 

If you believe your employer violated the WARN Act, seek legal assistance from the Working Solutions Law Firm, located in New York City. Contact us today at (646) 430-7930 to schedule a free case evaluation and receive experienced legal counsel.