WARN Act and Other Statutory Violations
The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act and various other federal statutes impose significant compliance burdens for many employers. Those that fail to comply can face substantial liability in civil litigation and federal enforcement proceedings.
Employers in the United States face numerous compliance burdens at the federal level. In addition to the anti-discrimination, minimum wage, protected leave, and immigration laws that apply generally to a broad spectrum of employers, there are also many federal statutes that are more specific in their application. Understanding when and how these laws apply is crucially important for covered employers, as statutory violations can lead to substantial liability in employee-employer litigation and federal law enforcement matters.
Our firm represents employers nationwide in litigation, investigations, and enforcement proceedings involving these statutes. Within our employer defense practice, a significant amount of our work is focused in this area. We provide compliance representation for employers of all sizes as well, and our attorneys and litigation consultants bring centuries of combined experience to helping employers avoid liability for statutory violations.
Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act Litigation and Investigations
The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act applies to employers that are preparing to conduct large-scale reductions in force. As summarized by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), “[t]he WARN Act requires employers to provide written notice at least 60 calendar days in advance of covered plant closings and mass layoffs . . . . An employer’s notice assures that assistance can be provided to affected workers, their families, and the appropriate communities through the State Rapid Response Dislocated Worker Unit.”
Under the WARN Act, a “plant closing” is defined as, “the permanent or temporary shutdown of a single site of employment, or one or more facilities or operating units within a single site of employment, if the shutdown results in an employment loss at the single site of employment during any 30-day period for 50 or more employees, excluding part-time employees.” For WARN Act purposes, a “mass layoff” occurs when an employer terminates (i) 50 to 499 employees if those who are terminated represent at least 33 percent of the employer’s total active workforce excluding part-time workers; or, (ii) terminates 500 or more full-time employees. Employers must provide adequate notice prior to either of these events, and failure to provide the requisite notice has the potential to lead to multi-plaintiff litigation as well as the initiation of enforcement proceedings by governmental authorities.
In WARN Act litigation, employers can face liability for back pay and benefits for the period of the violation at issue, subject to a maximum of 60 days. In certain circumstances, they can face additional monetary penalties as well. If your company is planning a plant closure or mass layoff, or if your company is facing potential liability for a WARN Act violation, it will be important to engage federal defense counsel as soon as possible.
Employee Lawsuits and Federal Enforcement Matters Involving Other Federal Statutes
In addition to WARN Act litigation, our federal defense lawyers represent employers nationwide in other types of federal civil litigation and enforcement proceedings as well. This includes (but is not limited to) litigation and enforcement proceedings initiated under the following statutes:
Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA)
The Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA) prohibits employers from terminating employees because their wages have been garnished for any individual debt, and it imposes limitations on the amount of employees’ earnings that can be garnished. State laws offer similar protections; and, when both federal and state protections apply, employers, “must observe the law resulting in the smaller garnishment.”
In litigation under the CCPA, employers can face liability for back wages and restoration of improperly-garnished amounts; and, in some cases terminated employees may also be entitled to reinstatement.
Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)
We represent employers and their personnel in civil litigation and criminal enforcement matters under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Employers have numerous and wide-ranging obligations under ERISA, and both unintentional compliance issues and intentional misconduct by plan managers and other individuals can expose employers to significant liability.
For employers that are subject to ERISA, establishing and maintaining compliance needs to be a top priority. In addition to adopting appropriate internal policies and procedures, this also includes adequately training and monitoring employees who have decision-making authority with regard to sponsored plans and who have the ability to access employees’ savings. When faced with ERISA litigation, being able to demonstrate reasonable and good-faith compliance efforts with comprehensive documentation can be crucial to asserting a successful defense.
Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)
Compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) is a particular concern for employers in certain industries, and non-compliance can lead to litigation on multiple fronts. Not only can employers face lawsuits from employees and families involving allegations of OSHA non-compliance, but the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration and other governmental authorities can pursue targeted enforcement proceedings as well.
In federal OSHA enforcement matters, employers can face penalties of up to $134,937 per violation. This is in addition to any civil liability that they may face in private civil litigation. Our attorneys represent employers in both types of proceedings, and when necessary we execute coordinated defense strategies focused on fully protecting our clients against liability.
Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)
The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) is a federal statute that provides civilian employment-related protections to members of the U.S. armed forces. Specifically, USERRA, “protects service members’ reemployment rights when returning from a period of service in the uniformed services, including those called up from the reserves or National Guard, and prohibits employer discrimination based on military service or obligation.”
For employers, various missteps can lead to liability under USERRA. The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) actively enforces employers’ obligations under USERRA, and statutory violations can trigger liability for back pay and other damages.
5 Reasons to Choose Oberheiden P.C. for Employer Defense
Class actions under the WARN Act can present substantial liability risks, and employers targeted in other types of statutory claims can face significant exposure as well. In order to overcome unjustified complaints and mitigate their losses in litigation, employers need to engage experienced legal representation.
Our firm represents employers of all sizes in litigation in federal jurisdictions across the country. We execute proven defense strategies backed by an extensive track record, and we work diligently and efficiently in order to favorably resolve our clients’ employment disputes as quickly as possible.
Here is what you can expect when you choose Oberheiden P.C.:
- Full-Service Representation by a Nationwide Network of Defense Attorneys and Litigation Consultants – In addition to the litigation team at our headquarters in Dallas, Texas, we have a network of affiliated local counsel and litigation consultants who work in offices around the country. This allows us to effectively represent employers in complex litigation on a nationwide scale.
- Centuries of Combined High-Level Experience in Complex Federal Cases – All of our defense attorneys and litigation consultants are senior-level individuals, and many have multiple decades of experience in federal practice. This includes practice as trial litigators and investigative agents with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).
- A Client-First Approach to Legal Representation that Involves a Team Mentality and 24/7 Accessibility – Unlike other law firms, our attorneys do not work in individual silos. Instead, we take a team approach that ensures all clients benefit from our attorneys’ collective experience in federal employment law matters. Our litigation consultants play integral roles as well, and our attorneys and consultants make themselves available to speak with our clients 24/7.
- Strategic Defense Representation Focused on the Efficient Achievement of Favorable Results – As a result of our extensive experience representing employers in federal statutory matters, we are able to offer defense strategies that are based on our attorneys’ and litigation consultants’ understanding of how disputes play out in real-world scenarios. We take an analytical and forward-thinking approach in all aspects of our defense representation, and we focus on achieving positive outcomes for our clients without unnecessary costs or delays.
Employment-related disputes can be disruptive; and, if not handled appropriately, they can also be extremely costly. At Oberheiden P.C., we emphasize efficient solutions that keep our clients’ businesses running smoothly. If your company is facing WARN Act litigation, ERISA or OSHA litigation, or any other type of statutory dispute under federal law, we can help, and we encourage you to contact us to learn more.
Contact the Employer Defense Lawyers at Oberheiden P.C.
If you would like more information about our firm’s employer defense practice, we invite you to get in touch. One of our senior attorneys will be happy to speak with you one-on-one to assess your company’s situation and begin examining your options for moving forward. To schedule your complimentary case assessment as soon as possible, call Oberheiden P.C. at 888-680-1745 or tell us how we can help online now.