As we advised previously, the New York State Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (“New York WARN Act” or “the Act”) went into effect on February 1, 2009. The Act is patterned after the federal WARN Act but is significantly broader in the burdens it imposes on employers operating in the State of New York.
The New York Department of Labor recently issued Emergency Regulations that clarify various aspects of the Act. The Regulations took effect immediately upon issuance.
Like its federal counterpart, the New York WARN Act requires certain employers to give advance notice of mass layoffs, and it provides employees with the right to bring a civil action against their employer if they are discharged without proper notice. However, it covers more employers than the federal act (employers with 50 or more employees) and requires employers to provide more notice in the event of a covered event (at least a 90-day notice).
The Emergency Regulations provide the following clarifications to the New York WARN Act:
- Provide new or updated definitions of “affected employee,” “consolidation of all or part of a business,” “employer,” “employment loss,” “facility,” “mass layoff,” “operating unit,” “part-time employee,” “plant closing,” “relocation,” “representative,” and “single site of employment;
- Impose additional requirements as to the contents of the Notices to the Commissioner of Labor, the Affected Employee, the Representative of the Affected Employee, and the local Workplace Investment Board;
- Describe the process by which employers may notify affected employees by e-mail;
- Explain the limited circumstances in which employers do not need to provide notification to seasonal employees;
- Modify the deadline by which an employer found guilty of violating the Act must pay the applicable fine or request a hearing;
- Confirm that compliance with the Act does not exempt an employer from complying with any other obligation or statute, and
- Agree to keep confidential any information obtained from an employer through administration of the Act which is not otherwise obtainable under the Labor Law or rules or regulations promulgated thereunder.
Please contact your employment counsel at Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP with any questions regarding how to comply with the New York WARN Act.