Assembly Member Matt Haney, D-San Francisco, has proposed a bill that would extend the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) to cover contract workers, increase the required notice period for layoffs to 90 days, and ban companies from requiring terminated workers to sign non-disclosure or non-disparagement agreements as a condition of receiving WARN Act notice or pay.
Proposed Bill Seeks to Extend WARN Act Coverage to Contract Workers and Expand Advance Notice Period
Contract employees are currently not covered by the WARN Act, which mandates that large companies cutting more than 50 jobs must either give workers two months’ notice or pay them two months of wages. Haney said the proposed bill would protect contract workers and ensure they are treated fairly. The California Chamber of Commerce has not yet taken a position on the bill, but some members have expressed concerns that the longer notice period could force companies to cut an employee sooner than they otherwise would have, which could have a detrimental impact on employees.
The proposed legislation aims to prohibit companies from linking severance packages to agreements that prevent workers from disclosing information or making negative comments about the company. An incident at Twitter involving newly appointed CEO Elon Musk made headlines when laid-off employees were required to sign nondisparagement agreements in order to receive their severance pay.
Top California Counties with the Highest Layoffs
- San Francisco County – 6,971 layoffs
- Santa Clara County – 7,069 layoffs
- San Mateo County – 4,330 layoffs
- Los Angeles County – 9,379 layoffs
- San Diego County – 5,533 layoffs
- Alameda County – 4,705 layoffs
- Orange County – 3,594 layoffs
- Sacramento County – 1,553 layoffs
- San Bernardino County – 2,086 layoffs
- Riverside County – 1,595 layoffs
- Kern County – 1,039 layoffs
- San Benito County – 789 layoffs
- Contra Costa County – 689 layoffs
- Marin County – 682 layoffs
- Ventura County – 634 layoffs
Layoffs and discharges are part of the regular churn in the US, even in good times, with between 1.6 million and 1.8 million layoffs and discharges occurring each month before the pandemic. While companies lay off workers for a variety of reasons, including company-specific issues, workers are relatively quickly absorbed by other employers, and unemployment remains low.
What to Do If You’ve Been Affected by Sudden Layoffs in California
If you are part of the sudden layoffs happening in California, there are several steps you can take to manage the situation. Firstly, it’s essential to understand your legal rights as a contract worker, including any protections offered by the new bill proposed in California.
Next, you should immediately file for unemployment benefits to help cover your expenses during this period of unemployment. You may also consider networking and seeking new job opportunities, updating your resume and LinkedIn profile, and seeking professional career counseling to help you navigate this challenging time. Additionally, you may want to reach out to your former employer to inquire about any severance packages or other forms of support they may be offering to employees affected by the layoffs.
Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Company for Sudden and Unlawful Layoffs of Workers
According to a recent class action lawsuit, Akorn Pharmaceuticals has allegedly committed unlawful layoffs of approximately 450 employees at its production facilities in Decatur, Illinois. The lawsuit was filed by a group of four former Akorn employees who claim that the company did not provide them with enough notice prior to informing them of the layoffs during a company-wide video call, as required by law.
The former employees argue that Akorn violated the WARN Act, which mandates that a company with over 75 employees must provide at least 60 days written notice to its workers, as well as local and state government, prior to conducting a mass layoff or plant closure. They claim that they should have been given 60 days written notice that they would be losing their employment or that Akorn would be closing down its U.S. locations.
Akron, on the other hand, has filed a state WARN notification with the Department of Labor, according to reports. The department has reportedly announced that it will launch an immediate investigation into how Akorn handled the mass layoff.
In summary, Akorn Pharmaceuticals is facing a class action lawsuit alleging that the company violated the WARN Act by unlawfully laying off employees without providing them with sufficient notice, and an investigation by the Department of Labor is currently underway.