Layoff-related lawsuits are surging, legal advice is needed

The Minnesota Lawyer - Nora Lockwood Tooher
Published: December 22, 2008

As the recession deepens and layoffs mount, attorneys representing both former employees and management report a surge in layoff-related legal activity.

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Over the last month, New York plaintiffs' lawyer Jack A. Raisner has filed about half a dozen class actions alleging WARN Act violations.

The WARN Act requires employers with at least 100 full-time employees at a job site to give 60 days' written notice before implementing a mass layoff.

Raisner's firm, Outten & Golden, currently has about 25 suits pending in federal courts throughout the country on behalf of thousands of laid-off workers. Defendants include failed investment bank Lehman Brothers Holdings; retailer Steve & Barry; nationwide car dealer Bill Heard Chevrolet and Archway Cookies.

The suits claim that the companies failed to give the required 60 days' notice and seek unpaid wages and benefits.

"It's not limited to factories; it's any worksite," Raisner said. "It could be an office, a hangar of an airport, or anything. "

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In their haste to downsize or when banks abruptly call in their debts, many firms simply failed to comply with the law, according to several employment lawyers.

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While the WARN Act applies only to larger firms, small businesses also face potential lawsuits when laying off employees.

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