Temporary Layoff v. Mass Layoff – WARN Act


Blog# 102319

My reading of US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, No. 19-1109, Carl Leeper v. Hamilton County Coal LLC, appeal from the US District Court for the Southern District of IL No. 16-CV-250 – Nancy J. Rosenstengel, Chief Judge. Clarification of Temporary vs Permanent Layoff and the WARN Act.

Today’s post is about a clarification of the terms temporary and mass layoff according to interpretation of the WARN Act and looks specifically at the terms Employment Termination and Hours Reduction in the following court case.

In the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, No. 19-1109, Carl Leeper v. Hamilton County Coal, LLC, . Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. No. 16-CV-250 — Nancy J. Rosenstengel, Chief Judge.

The relevant distinction between a layoff and an employment termination is whether that termination was expected to be temporary or permanent (p.10).

Hamilton initiated a layoff lasting under six months. Under Department of Labor guidance, that temporary cessation of the employment relationship wasn’t an employment termination under § 2101(a)(6)(A). And because Hamilton laid off the affected employees rather than reducing their work hours, § 2101(a)(6)(C) is irrelevant. Leeper cannot show that more than 33% of the mine’s full-time workforce experienced an employment loss. Because this was not a mass layoff under the Act, Hamilton wasn’t obligated to give the workers 60 days’ notice.

ARGUED MAY 17, 2019 — DECIDED SEPTEMBER 26, 2019 Before RIPPLE, MANION, and SYKES, Circuit Judges.

SYKES, Circuit Judge.

A group of workers at an Illinois coal mine received some unwelcome news on February 5, 2016. Their employer, Hamilton County Coal, LLC, announced a “temporary layoff” with an expected end date of August 1, 2016.

Carl Leeper, a full-time maintenance worker at the mine, responded with this class action under the Worker 2 No. 19-1109 Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (the “WARN Act” or “the Act”), which requires employers to give affected employees 60 days’ notice before imposing a “mass layoff.” 29 U.S.C. § 2102(a)(1). The Act defines a mass layoff as an event in which at least 33% of a site’s full-time workforce suffers an “employment loss.” Id. § 2101(a)(3)(B).

The district court entered summary judgment for Hamilton because the work site did not experience a “mass layoff” as defined in the Act. We affirm. The record contains no evidence of a mass layoff. The term “employment loss” is defined as a permanent termination, a layoff exceeding six months, or an extended reduction of work hours. None of those events occurred here. Instead, Hamilton initiated a temporary layoff of under six months.

Resources

Plant Closings & Layoffs

The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act

20 CFR Part 639 – WORKER ADJUSTMENT AND RETRAINING NOTIFICATION

29 USC 2102: : Notice required before plant closings and mass layoffs

29 USC 2101: Definitions; exclusions from definition of loss of employment


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