Block & Leviton is conducting an investigation of the practices of companies who terminate employees as part of the termination of a larger group of employees, with respect to employees’ rights and benefits. Employers may refer to these terminations by many names (layoffs, reduction in force, downsizing), but by whatever name, if you lost your job along with a group of other employees, you may have certain rights under one of several laws, including the following:
First, such terminations may be covered by the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act of 1988 (“WARN”). WARN is a federal law that protects employees from mass layoffs and plant closings without due notification. Pursuant to the law, employers must issue written notice to employees or their representatives at least 60 days before the mass layoff or plant closing occurs. WARN also prohibits temporary layoffs that last longer than 6 months and reductions in work hours of more than 50% over a 6-month period without due notification. Several states have adopted laws similar to WARN that provide additional protection to employees. These statutes vary by state. If you were terminated or laid-off as a part of a larger group of employees, you may want to contact us.
Second, a mass termination (or amendment to the Plan), can result in a so-called “partial termination” of the Plan which may trigger rights for employees who are not fully-vested in their benefit plans. A partial termination is generally defined (or at least presumed) whenever there is a reduction in the number of plan participants by 20% or more (including if the reduction results from the termination of those employees’ employment). If a partial plan termination occurs, the accrued benefits of all affected employees must become fully vested (i.e., non-forfeitable). If you were terminated or laid-off as a part of a larger group of employees and were not fully vested in one or more of the benefits that were offered to you by your employer, you may want to contact us.
Third, your company may have a severance plan, which entitles you to certain benefits in the event of the termination of your employment. Sometimes, companies fail to pay severance benefits that employees are owed under the Plan by misinterpreting the terms of the Plan.
Of course, the above are only a handful of laws or Plans that may be impacted upon your termination. If your employment is terminated, it is often wise to contact a lawyer before you sign any documents to find out about your rights.
We will want to obtain some information to investigate your claim, including the state in which you reside and work, the mass layoff or plant closing, and copies of your employer’s benefits policies or plan documents. If you do not have copies of these documents, we can assist you in making a request for copies. There is no charge to you for us to assist you in making this request or for us to evaluate your case.
If you are a current or former employee of a company that has had or will soon have a mass layoff or plant closing and you did not receive 60 days’ notice, and/or you are a participant in an employee benefits plan that has or will lose coverage, you may want to contact one of the following persons for more information: