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Can Your Boss Lay You Off With No Warning?

May 5, 2023 Wrongful Termination & Retaliation

How the WARN Act Does (And Doesn’t) Protect You 

If you’ve been laid off without prior warning, you may be wondering if that is lawful. The answer is “it depends.” 

A law called the WARN Act—short for the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act—was enacted in the 80s to ensure that when a company lays off high numbers of workers, those workers got advance notice to minimize disruption to their lives and their broader communities. However, the law has a lot of exceptions. 

What’s in the WARN Act—and What Are the Exceptions? 

Under the WARN Act, employers who qualify have to give at least 60 days of notice in writing before enacting mass layoffs and plant closures. The purpose is to give the employees some time to adjust and find new work, and to prevent financial instability in large communities—as this law applies to large layoff events.  

However, not all employers or employees are subject to the WARN Act. The requirements include: 

  • The employer must have a minimum of 100 employees who work a combined number of at least 4,000 hours per week in total (not including overtime). 
  • Each employee subject to the WARN Act must work at least 20 hours per week. 
  • To qualify as a “mass layoff,” the layoff must occur at one single location. Remote workers are generally not protected, but those who travel for work usually are. 

There are additional requirements for a layoff event to qualify as a “mass layoff” under the WARN Act. Generally speaking, one of these events must happen during a 30-day period: 

  • 33% of the full-time workforce (at least 50 employees) is laid off at a single work site. 
  • At least 500 full-time employees are laid off at a single location, regardless of whether this amount represents 33% of the workforce. 
  • An entire workplace is closed that involves laying off at least 50 full-time employees. 

What To Do if Your Employer Violates the WARN Act 

If you were part of a mass layoff and didn’t get the appropriate notice, you may be able to collect compensation for the 60 days you should have had at your regular pay rate, as well as any benefits you would have received during that 60-day period. 

Costs for employers who violate the WARN act can be as much as $500 per day that the employee did not get compensated. Employers may avoid paying fines by compensating employees. 

If you believe that your employer violated the WARN Act in not giving you and your colleagues proper warning of a mass layoff, you may be entitled to compensation. You should contact a knowledgeable employment attorney right away. 

Your employment attorney can assess the situation, determine whether you are owed compensation, and hold your employer accountable on your behalf. Call us at 267-273-1054 or email us at for a free, confidential consultation today.  

The information provided here does not constitute legal advice. It is intended for general purposes only. If you have questions about a specific legal issue, you should speak to an attorney.