Last week, the Federal Oversight, Reform, and Enforcement of the WARN (FOREWARN) Act was introduced in the House by Rep. George Miller (D-CA) and in the Senate by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH). FOREWARN aims to amend the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act by requiring more and smaller employers to notify workers of plant closings or mass layoffs. FOREWARN also would increase penalties for employers who violate the act. For more information, click here to read Senator Brown's press release on FOREWARN.
This isn't the first time in Congress for FOREWARN; it was introduced in 2007, but failed to gain traction, perhaps because of a likely veto from the then Bush White House had it passed. The reintroduction of FOREWARN does not come as a big surprise: the Stoel Rives World of Employment warned (ouch! bad pun!) that changes were coming to the WARN Act back in March. Better yet, we predicted FOREWARN would be on then President-Elect Obama's agenda back in November 2008.
While FOREWARN is still making its way through Congress, employers must comply with the existing WARN Act, and we have some WARN Act resources to help:
- For a basic overview of the law, here's a basic WARN Act Fact Sheet.
- For more detailed information, download the Employer's Guide to the WARN Act (a great resource and our personal favorite).
- Next, if your layoff is caused by an "act of God," you might want to download the WARN Act Natural Disaster Fact Sheet.
- And finally, you can read what the DOL is telling your employees: the Workers' Guide to the WARN Act, and for Spanish-speaking employees, the Guía para el Trabajadores.
In case you missed it, Barack Obama will be the next President of the United States! And both houses of Congress will be controlled by Democratic majorities. Wondering what this will mean for labor and employment law? So are we! But we've gone a step further and made some educated guesses on what to watch out for.
- The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). The EFCA would be the most wide-ranging revision to federal labor law in 50 years. It would, among other things, require employers to recognize a union as the exclusive bargaining agent for its employees based solely on a "card check" process rather than a secret ballot election. If passed, it is expected to drastically increase union organizing and unionization rates. The Stoel Rives World of Employment will be watching this one very closely.
- The Re-Empowerment of Skilled and Professional Employees and Construction Tradeworkers Act (RESPECT). No, it's not an Aretha Franklin song. The "RESPECT" Act would reverse the NLRB’s recent rulings that clarified the requirements to be a "supervisor" under federal labor law. RESPECT would dramatically increase the number of employees who could unionize. Sock it to me!
- The Paycheck Fairness Act and the Equal Remedies Act. These statutes—competing versions to address the same issue—would reverse the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent Ledbetter ruling addressing the statutes of limitations under Title VII. Both would enable plaintiffs to press viable claims going back much further in time.
- The Civil Rights Act of 2008. The proposed amendments to the civil rights laws would make numerous changes including removal of damage caps on sex, religion, and disability discrimination, as well as retaliation lawsuits.
- The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). ENDA would amend Title VII to add sexual orientation as a protected class.
- The FOREWARN Act. This amendment to WARN would increase the notice period for plant closings or mass layoffs from 60 to 90 days.
- Minimum wage. President-elect Obama has also expressed his support for raising the minimum wage to $9.50 per hour by 2010.
- Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). President-elect Obama has also indicated his support for expanding the Family and Medical Leave Act to cover companies with 25 or more employees (currently 50).