Effective February 1, 2009, employers in New York must give their employees more notice prior to layoffs.
In August 2008, Gov. David Patterson signed into law the New York State Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (the "NY WARN Act"), which imposes similar requirements on employers to those required by the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (the "Federal Act"), but there are some differences between the two.
According to the NY WARN ACT, the definition of "mass layoff" includes employment losses at a single site of employment that affect: (1) at least 25 full-time employees (compared with the 50 employee minimum of the Federal Act) as long as they represent at least 33 percent of the total active workforce; or (2) at least 250 full-time employees (compared with the 500 employee threshold of the Federal Act).
In addition, the Federal Act generally requires employers with 100 or more full-time employees to provide 60 days advance written notice regarding plant closures, plant relocation or mass layoffs to the affected employees' representative or, if none, to the affected employees themselves. The Federal Act also requires the employers to notify the state dislocated worker unit and the local government. However, based on the NY WARN Act, New York employers with 50 or more employees must provide such written notice 90 days in advance.
The NY WARN act is enforced by the state Commissioner of Labor, and any employer who violates the law may face civil penalties as well as back wage reimbursement.