Employee Rights And Legal Safeguards Under California Layoff Laws

Employee Rights And Legal Safeguards Under California Layoff Laws

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The impact of layoffs on employees and their families cannot be overstated. Whether driven by economic downturns, corporate restructuring, or cost-cutting measures, layoffs can have far-reaching implications for employees.

Recognizing the vulnerability of employees during such turbulent times, California’s labor laws provide a robust framework of legal protections that are designed to safeguard employees’ rights and ensure fair treatment during layoffs.

In this article, we take a look at the various protections available for employees under California layoff laws.

What Is a Layoff?

Under California law, a layoff – also referred to as downsizing – is defined as the termination of employees on a temporary or permanent basis due to reasons unrelated to their performance. Layoffs can occur due to various reasons including economic downturns, outsourcing and offshoring, mergers and acquisitions, business closures, and other unforeseeable business circumstances.

Laws and Regulations Governing Layoffs in California

The most important laws and regulations governing layoffs in California include:

California Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act

The California WARN Act requires employers with 75 or more employees to provide at least 60 days’ advance written notice to affected employees under the following circumstances.

  • Mass Layoff: A layoff in which 50 or more employees are terminated within a 30-day period
  • Relocation: When an employer relocates their entire commercial or industrial operations or a substantial portion of them to a new location which is located at least 100 miles away from the current location
  • Plant Closure: When an employer shuts down their commercial or industrial operations

Ley de Vivienda y Empleo Justo de California (FEHA)

FEHA prohibits discrimination and harassment based on race, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, and several other protected characteristics. Employers are required to make sure that layoffs do not disproportionately impact employees due to their protected characteristics and they must be able to demonstrate legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for workforce reductions.

California Unemployment Insurance Code

The California Unemployment Insurance Code provides benefits to eligible workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own, including those who are laid off. Employees who are laid off might be entitled to receive unemployment insurance benefits, subject to eligibility requirements and certain limitations.

Federal WARN Act

In addition to state laws, federal laws like the federal WARN Act also apply to layoffs in California for employers with 100 or more employees. The federal WARN Act requires covered employers to provide at least 60 days’ advance notice in the event of plant closures, layoffs affecting 50 or more employees (if they account for at least 1/3rd of the workforce), and mass layoffs affecting 500 or more employees.

How Our California Employment Lawyers Can Help You during a Layoff

Here is how our California employment lawyers at Hershey Law can help you during a layoff.

  • We can help you understand your rights under California’s WARN Act and other applicable laws. We can explain the legal requirements regarding advance notice, severance pay, continuation of benefits, and other entitlements that might apply to your situation.
  • If you have an employment contract, we can review the terms and conditions to determine any contractual rights or obligations related to layoffs, severance, or other benefits. We can advise you on the enforceability of contractual provisions and any potential claims for breach of contract.
  • We can negotiate with your employer for a fair severance package that includes monetary compensation, continuation of health benefits, outplacement services, and other benefits. We can advocate for your interests and ensure that the terms of the severance agreement are fair and equitable.
  • We can assess whether the layoff may give rise to legal claims related to wrongful termination, discrimination, retaliation, or violations of labor laws. We can conduct a thorough review of the circumstances surrounding the layoff to determine the viability of potential claims.
  • If we determine that your rights have been violated or that you have been unlawfully terminated, we can assist you in filing administrative charges with government agencies like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). We can also file lawsuits on your behalf to seek damages, reinstatement, or other remedies.

Damages Our California Employment Attorneys Can Potentially Recover for Violations of California WARN Act

If your employer fails to provide you advance notice of a mass layoff, plant closure, or relocation, we can work to recover the following damages and benefits for you.

  • Back pay for the period of violation (from the date of violation to the date on which you were notified)
  • The value of benefits you are entitled to, but were denied during the period of violation (including health insurance coverage, retirement contributions, and other monetary benefits)
  • Statutory penalties (up to $500 per day for each day of the violation period)
  • Attorney’s fees and other legal costs

Have You Been Laid Off Unlawfully? Fight Back with Our California Employment Law Attorneys!

If you have been laid off in violation of the California WARN Act or any other applicable laws, the experienced employment lawyers at Hershey Law can help you fight back and recover the damages you are owed. We can hold your employer accountable for their legal violations, determine the damages and other benefits you are entitled to under the law, and negotiate or litigate if necessary to recover what you are owed.

Do not let your employer get away with violating your legal rights. Call us today at 310-929-2190 o llena nuestro formulario de contacto en línea to schedule a free consultation with a California employment lawyer at our firm.

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