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Trial Lawyers Targeting Oil and Gas Industry Layoffs

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There have already been social media campaigns targeting laid off oil and gas workers.  Trial lawyers are looking for claims to bring against companies that make mistakes in laying off workers.  On its face, the WARN Act appears to be simple and straightforward.  However, there are several traps in that simple statute and you must step with caution. 

If the following criteria apply to you, you may be covered by the WARN Act, and you should contact competent counsel immediately to work through whether employment actions you are considering are covered events under the Act:

  • Do you have 100 or more employees?
  • Will you be conducting a layoff that is expected to last more than 6 months?
  • Are you shutting down an operating unit, a shift, or a facility which will result in an employment loss for 50 or more employees at a “single site of employment?”
  • Are you conducting a layoff that affects at least 33% of your active employees and will affect at least 50 employees?
  • Are you laying off 500 or more employees?

There may also be implications under a state wage payment act.  States have laws in place to require timely payment of wages and other fringe benefits (this can include commissions and bonuses), and failure to meet those requirements may trigger liability for the unpaid wages, attorneys' fees, interest, and penalties.

For advice on compliance with these and other laws affecting employers who are engaging in layoffs, please contact Bryan Cokeley at 304-353-8116 or bryan.cokeley@steptoe-johnson.com; or Vanessa Goddard at 304-290-0818 or vanessa.goddard@steptoe-johnson.com.

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