Mass Layoffs in California Due to COVID-19: Employees Should Know Their Rights

The widespread economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has led to many businesses in California to lay-off their employees. While the federal and state officials are encouraging employers to allow employees to work-from-home wherever possible, many California companies continue to execute mass lay-offs to cut down their costs.

Lower level workers operating in high-contact job positions are unable to contribute significantly by working from home, while many high-paid employees in management positions are also losing their jobs because the production and sales turnover is down in the current coronavirus crisis.

Some Industries More Impacted than Others

Gov. Gavin Newsom has called for a statewide closure of all night clubs, bars, wineries, and pubs. Restaurants have been asked to restrict themselves to only 50 percent of their maximum occupancy in order to minimize the risk of exposure.

Even though some of the restaurant owners are retaining a part of their workforce and paying their hourly wages, the workers are losing substantially in terms of tips because of the poor customer inflow.

Travel, hospitality, and retail businesses are also severely impacted and are laying-off employees in California. Thousands of workers are facing reducing shifts and losing work hours even if they have not been laid-off in the prevailing situation.

60-Day WARN Act Notice Period Suspended

On March 18th, 2020, California suspended the requirement of a mandatory 60-day notice that eligible employers must give to their employees before a layoff. Businesses are also allowed to close down their establishments or relocate their operations without giving the mandatory notice under the WARN Act.

However, workers should know that their employers are still required to provide as much of advance notice as possible (even if it is not 60 days). The notice contents should include all the information that was originally required by the California WARN Act.

It is also important to understand that this relaxation of advance notice for mass layoffs is only provided to businesses that had at least 75 employees (both full-time and part-time) on their payroll in the previous 12 months.

Check whether Your Employer has Satisfied the Conditions for a Layoff

The suspension of 60-day advance notice requirement in California for mass layoffs is applicable only if your employer has fulfilled the following conditions:

  • Your layoff, termination, or relocation was caused by coronavirus pandemic related business circumstances which could not be foreseen, and not for any other reasons.
  • Your employer must provide you a written notice to you if you have been impact the mass layoff, termination, or relocation. At the same time, the employer should also inform the local authorities about it.
  • Your employer should give you as much as advance notice as practically possible so that you have time to prepare for the layoff.

Finally, your employer is also under obligation to inform you about your possible eligibility for Unemployment Insurance (UI) and guide you about the information and resources related to how you can obtain it.

Consult with a Competent California Employment Law Attorney

If you believe that your employer may not have paid you the correct wages and compensation during the current coronavirus pandemic situation, or has removed you from employment unlawfully, the dedicated employment law attorneys at Makarem & Associates will help you pursue a legal claim. Call us at310-312-0299 to book an appointment, or email us at [email protected].

The consultation with us free. Call Makarem & Associates any time. We know employment law and we have a long list of satisfied clients to verify this. You pay us nothing upfront – we only win if you win!