Reductions in Force – WARN Act and OWBPA Compliance

When faced with the financial challenges associated with economic downturns and changes in the business landscape, employers are confronted with the reality of having to reevaluate how they have done business in the past and, typically, end up charting a new course for the future. In addition to restructuring how a company will conduct its operations, what often also emerges from this process is an employer’s decision to significantly restructure and reduce the size of the organization’s workforce.

However, reductions in force or layoffs require employers to consider and comply with a complex web of federal, state and local laws addressing or impacting a multitude of different issues including, among others:

  • How much advance notice must be provided to employees selected for layoff
  • The form of such notice
  • How employees are selected
  • Requirements relating to the use of employee releases of potential claims in exchange for severance benefits

For example, where an employer has a minimum threshold number of employees and is instituting a plant or facility closing or a layoff of a particular size, the employer may be required to give the selected employees 60 days written notice of the workforce reduction, pursuant to the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act of 1988 (WARN) and similar applicable state laws.  Likewise, there a variety of complicated procedures and requirements that must be satisfied, pursuant to the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act of 1990 (OWBPA), in order for an employer to obtain a lawful waiver and release from employees covered by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA).

As a result, implementing a reduction in force requires a thorough understanding of the employer’s objectives as well as careful planning not only in how to analyze and structure a workforce reduction but also in how to select employees for layoff in a manner that minimizes potential legal exposure, including to claims of harassment, discrimination and retaliation.  Moreover, when not implemented properly, reductions in force can unnecessarily cause employers to be exposed to an increased risk of litigation and other legal challenges, often at substantial and anticipated cost.

At Miller Legal Group, P.C., we help employers and their HR leadership teams to understand and properly navigate the uncertainties associated with structuring and implementing both voluntary and involuntary reductions in force.  To this end, we advise employers on the various laws and issues which impact reductions in force, conduct impact analyses for persons in protected classes, and prepare the necessary notices, releases, agreements and other documentation to minimize the potential for individual as well as class action claims.

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Contact a Los Angeles and Orange County Layoff and Workforce Reduction Attorney

For more information about what we do, our alternative fee arrangements, or to schedule a Litigation Avoidance consultation with an experienced Los Angeles and Orange County employment law attorney specializing in layoffs and reductions in force at Miller Legal Group, P.C., please contact us at our South Bay employment law firm by e-mail or by telephone at (310) 426-2650.