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California Suspends 60-Day WARN Act Notice Period Due to COVID-19

This morning, California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an Executive Order that allows a California employer that is conducting layoffs due to the COVID-19 pandemic to use the newly-created “unforeseen business circumstances” exception to the state’s WARN Act requirements.

More specifically, the order indicates that:

  • Mass layoffs, relocations or closures fall under the newly-created “unforeseen business circumstances” exception to the law, but California employers must still provide notice under the WARN Act requirement as soon as practicable (even if less than 60 days).

  • The content of the notice must include all of the information already required by the California WARN Act and, further, that the mass layoff, relocation or termination/closure is caused by COVID-19-related “business circumstances that were not reasonably foreseeable as of the time that notice would have been required.”

  • The notice must state that “If you have lost your job or been laid off temporarily, you may be eligible for Unemployment Insurance (UI).  More information on UI and other resources available for workers is available at labor.ca.gov/coronavirus2019.”

The governor’s order has been issued as a result of the large number of employers that have had to close rapidly without providing their employees advance notice as otherwise required by California because of the need to prevent or mitigate the spread of COVID-19.  Please note, based on a 2017 California court of appeal opinion, California WARN notice is required even in the case of temporary mass layoffs (e.g., mass layoffs that span a period of under 6 months).  See International Bhd. of Boilermakers, et al. v. NASSCO Holdings Inc., 17 Cal. App. 5th 1105 (2017).

Finally, by March 23, 2020 the state’s Labor and Workforce Development will provide guidance to the public as to how the Order will be implemented.

© 2020 Proskauer Rose LLP.

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About this Author

Anthony J Oncidi, Employment Attorney, Proskauer Rose Law Firm
Partner

Anthony J. Oncidi heads the Labor & Employment Law Group in the Los Angeles office. Tony represents employers and management in all aspects of labor relations and employment law, including litigation and preventive counseling, wage and hour matters, including class actions, wrongful termination, employee discipline, Title VII and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, executive employment contract disputes, sexual harassment training and investigations, workplace violence, drug testing and privacy issues, Sarbanes-Oxley claims and employee raiding and trade secret protection....

310-284-5690
Nayirie K. Mehdikhani Associate California Employment Law Hiring & Terminations Labor-Management Relations
Associate

Nayirie Mehdikhani is an associate in the Labor & Employment Law Department. Nayirie represents clients in federal and state litigations, arbitrations, labor-management relations and collective bargaining, as well as, employment matters, including, class actions and employment discrimination.

Previously, Nayirie served as Assistant General Counsel at the New York City Mayor's Office of Labor Relations, where she represented the Mayor and City agencies in every phase of labor administrative proceedings including arbitration, improper practice matters and collective bargaining negotiations. During law school, Nayirie was a teaching assistant for the class, "Labor and Employment Law" at the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations, a legal extern at NIKE, Inc., and a graduate intern in Business Affairs and Development at ESPN, Inc.

310-284-5664
Cole Lewis Employment Attorney
Associate

Cole Lewis is an associate in the Labor & Employment Department.

Cole graduated from UCLA School of Law, where he worked as a law clerk for Public Counsel of Los Angeles and advocated for benefit recipients in the Department of Public Social Services. He has also previously worked as a summer associate in Proskauer’s Labor & Employment Department.

Prior to law school, Cole received his Bachelor’s degree in Journalism at Indiana University, where he graduated cum laude.

310-284-5668