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Employers Beware, and Be Proactive: Major WARN Act Expansion in the Wings for 2009

December 19, 2008

By Larry Sidman, J. Mark Poerio, Jason Rosenstock and Michael Steele

With unemployment rising and few expecting a workforce recovery in 2009, there is a serious risk that the early days of the Obama administration may see Congress turn attention to the FOREWARN Act (S. 1792, H.R. 3662), which is short for the Federal Oversight, Reform, and Enforcement of the WARN Act.

In a nutshell, FOREWARN would prospectively extend WARN protections to smaller employers, trigger worker protections under broader circumstances, and expand WARNs advance notice requirement from 60 to 90 days before plant closings and mass layoffs. FOREWARN also promises to dramatically raise the enforcement stakes by doubling the back-pay penalties for WARN violations. It doesnt stop there. FOREWARN would further authorize the DOL and state attorneys general to file civil actions to enforce WARN.