On January 21, 2020, New Jersey enacted substantial and unprecedented changes to its existing Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN)-related Act, the Millville Dallas Airmotive Plant Job Loss Notification Act (the Act). Since its enactment in 2007, the Act–which imposes requirements in addition to those under the federal WARN Act–has mandated that employers with 100 or more employees provide, under certain circumstances, notice of anticipated mass layoff, or permanent or temporary shutdown, or transfer of operations.
Previously, for a mass layoff to trigger the Act’s requirements, either 500 or more full-time employees or 50 or more full-time employees representing one-third or more of the full-time employees had to be affected. Now, following changes to the law, a “mass layoff” includes the employment termination at an establishment during any 30-day period of 50 or more employees (whether full or part time) at or reporting to the establishment. The new amendments also expand the definition of “establishment” from essentially a single site of employment to any single or group of locations in New Jersey. In other words, the 50 affected employees no longer need to work at the same contiguous location.
Employers will also need to give 90 days’ advance notice (increased from 60 days) of a qualifying shutdown, transfer, or mass layoff. And, imposing a significant financial burden to employers, affected employers will now be required to pay as severance one week of pay to affected employees for each full year of employment.
Employers cannot condition this severance on a release and will be required to pay an additional four weeks of pay if they fail to provide employees with the full 90-day notice. Employers cannot obtain a waiver of an employee’s right to severance under the Act without approval from either the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development or a court.
The amendments to the Act, which become effective on July 20, 2020, impose material new hurdles for New Jersey employers and will have significant implications for employers’ operations, business and corporate decisions, and employment practices. Lowenstein Sandler LLP’s employment law and bankruptcy lawyers are available to provide legal counsel if you have questions.