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Missouri’s Approach to Protecting Employee Rights During Layoffs and Reductions in Force

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Protecting Employee Rights

If an employer has to lay off employees or otherwise reduce their workforce, there are specific rules they must abide by. Employees are protected on the federal level and through the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.

The reasons employers need to reduce their workforce or lay off employees vary greatly. Companies can go out of business due to a lack of profits or significant changes in ownership or management. Mergers may occur that require the company to downsize, and costs can be reduced by letting go of some employees as a strategy to increase the bottom line.

Maybe a business is facing bankruptcy options, forcing them to outsource parts of their business at a lower cost, decrease operations, or cancel projects. Companies may relocate or experience technological advancements, no longer requiring the same workforce they once needed.

As an employee, you have rights regarding these frustrating transitions, as well as legal protection.

Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification

If an employer decides to close a worksite, otherwise downsize, or reduce its workforce, there are federal laws in place that they must abide by. The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification, or WARN Act, ensures requirement of employers are met.

According to the United States Department of Labor, “a WARN notice is required when a business with 100 or more full-time workers (not counting workers who have less than six months on the job and workers who work fewer than 20 hours per week) is laying off at least 50 people at a single site of employment…”

What this means for employers who qualify is that they are required to provide a 60-day notice in advance of applicable mass layoffs or plant closings. This requirement is in place to protect the employees, their families, and the communities.

A WARN notice must include the name and address where the layoff will occur, the expected date of the first set of job losses, the names of all relevant union/employee representatives where applicable, positions or job titles that will be affected, and an explanation as to whether the job loss will be temporary or permanent.

The best practice for employers is to issue a WARN notice even if they don’t fit the specific criteria, allowing employees to access necessary resources promptly.

What if My Employer Didn’t Supply a WARN Notice?

If you are an employee who has experienced a mass layoff and your employer didn’t sufficiently notify you via a written notice, you may have legal options to pursue. It’s important to understand that not all employers will be required to adhere to WARN rules.

Consult your experienced employment lawyer to confirm whether your employer qualifies and if you have grounds to pursue legal options.

If it’s found that your employer does qualify and is required to submit a WARN notice and did not comply, you may be eligible for back pay and benefits for up to 60 days and more. This law applies to all levels of employees, including salaried or hourly, management, supervisory roles, and more.

In many cases, the employers may be responsible for the associate legal fees. However, it’s important to note that if your case doesn’t have a positive outcome and it’s found that your employer acted legally, you may be responsible for the legal fees.

Other Forms of Protection in the Face of Layoffs or Reductions

Unemployment may be a good solution for you and your family until you can obtain gainful employment. According to the Missouri Department of Labor, eligible employees may receive up to twenty weeks of benefits per year, which can assist you in some financial relief while you search for another position.

If your employer has laid you off on a temporary basis with a recall date, this date, and other relevant information can be included in your unemployment application. By having a viable recall date, the employee is exempt from having to search for other forms of employment during the layoff. A work search is typically required for those receiving unemployment benefits to ensure they seek other income sources after a layoff.

Discharged Employees

With Missouri being an “at-will” work state, employers and employees can terminate employment at almost any time and for any reason, barring any contracts that may be in place.

If your employer laid you off as a means to cut costs or restructure, but you suspect that the reasons were invalid or broached discriminatory practices, seek legal assistance immediately.

Work with your employment lawyer to file a complaint with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights. Your civil rights should be protected at all costs. Suppose you suspect your employer discriminated against you, resulting in you losing your job based on age, race, national origin, religion, or other protected classes. In that case, you may have significant legal options to pursue.

You Have Rights. Let Us Help Protect You.

Contact a trusted team of employment lawyers immediately if you suspect your employer hasn’t complied with federal or state laws during your layoff or otherwise removal from your position.

We can help you understand your rights and how they may have been violated and navigate the process moving forward. With decades of experience fiercely advocating for our clients, we are well-versed in employment law and prepared to protect your rights tirelessly. No one should settle for losing their livelihood against state and federal laws.

Let’s work together to get to the bottom of things and right any wrongs you may have experienced.

Have further questions? Contact our office at 314-528-9661 to learn more.

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