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Plant closings, layoffs and wrongful termination lawsuits

In a previous blog post, we discussed how New Jersey employees are protected from retaliatory discharge by their employers for simply pointing out wrongdoing within their businesses. This so-called "whistleblower's protection" is meant to preserve the rights of employees and incentivize them to step forward with sensitive information that might not otherwise be discovered.

Still, other protections are given to employees who are discriminated against at their workplaces. There are also instances in which contracted employees are only permitted to be terminated for cause. Most people are already aware of these protections. However, there is also a lesser-known federal law that seeks to protect workers financially by ensuring that they have adequate notice of impending termination due to plant closings or layoffs.

The following are some of the most crucial elements of the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act:

-- Employers with 100 or more employees are required to give full-time employees at least 60 calendar days of notice, in writing, of an in pending plant closing or layoff. These protections generally do not extend to part-time employees with less than 20 hours per week, or employees who have worked less than six months within the last year.

-- Another necessary element for the WARN requirement is that the employer is bound to give this notice only if the plant closing or layoffs affect at least 50 employees at a single place of employment.

-- Employers are sometimes exempted from the WARN requirements when plant closings or layoffs occur as a result of unforeseeable events. Some examples of these include natural disasters and other unexpected fiscal solvency issues such as unplanned bankruptcies.

-- Indian tribal organizations that are federally recognized are not protected under WARN.

If you are a New Jersey worker who suspects that you have been wrongly terminated, your employment law attorney can prove valuable in assisting you in determining the merits of your case. Whether you were unlawfully dismissed without sufficient prior notice or terminated after exposing corporate fraud, you should take the time to ensure that your employment rights are preserved.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor-Terminations, "Plant Closings & Layoffs" Nov. 13, 2014

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