December 7, 2017
Authored by: Donald Samuels
As with so many other situations involving California’s employment laws, its protection for California-based employees experiencing a job loss is broader than the protections under federal law. In The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Shipbuilders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers, Local 998, et al. v. Nassco Holdings Inc., et al., the California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate Division held, among other things, that California’s version of the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (“WARN”) Act is broader than its federal counterpart.
The specific issue the court addressed was whether a furlough of several weeks constituted a “layoff” for purposes of a “mass layoff,” triggering the 60-day notice period when 50 or more employees at a covered establishment experience a “layoff” during any 30-day period. The defendant argued unsuccessfully that no notice was required because its work stoppage was only for a brief period and therefore its action was not a “layoff” or “mass layoff.” By contrast, the plaintiffs argued that notice was required because the statutory phrase “mass layoff” has no temporal limitation and includes the type of temporary layoffs that occurred, i.e., no termination, only a temporary separation from the position for lack of funds or lack of work.
In siding with the plaintiffs, the court relied upon the plain meaning of the statute, in addition to its recognition that the California Legislature specifically passed its WARN Act to provide broader protections for California employees. The court noted, among other things, the following differences between the federal WARN Act and the