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NJ WARN
Friday, May 29, 2009

On December 20, 2007, Governor Corzine signed the Millville Dallas Airmotive Plant Job Loss Notification (“NJ WARN”) Act. The NJ WARN Act, N.J.S.A. § 34:21-1, et seq., is similar to the federal Worker Adjustment Retraining and Notification (“WARN”) Act, 29 U.S.C. § 2101, et seq., but includes significant differences.

The NJ WARN Act applies to private employers of one hundred or more full-time employees. It requires such employers to provide at least sixty days’ notice of: (1) a “transfer of operations” or “termination of operations” that results in a loss of employment for fifty or more employees within a thirty day period; or (2) a “mass layoff.” The employer must provide notice to the employees facing termination and to certain government and union officials.
 
NJ WARN, like the federal law, defines “mass layoff” to mean a reduction in force that is not the result of a transfer or termination of operations, and that results in the termination of employment during a thirty day period for: (1) five hundred or more full-time employees; or (2) fifty or more full-time employees representing one third or more of all full-time employees at a location. The NJ WARN Act also requires notice in advance of a “termination of operations,” which is similar to the federal WARN Act term, “plant closing,” and means “the permanent or temporary shutdown of a single establishment, or of one or more facilities or operating units within a single establishment.”
 
The NJ WARN Act includes an exception to the “termination of operations” notice requirement where a company ceases operations “because of a fire, flood, natural disaster, national emergency, act of war, civil disorder or industrial sabotage, decertification from participation in the Medicare and Medicaid programs as provided under Titles XVIII and XIX of the federal ‘Social Security Act,’ … or license revocation [for health care facilities].”
 
In addition, unlike the federal WARN Act, NJ WARN requires notice of a “transfer of operations,” which means “the permanent or temporary transfer of a single establishment, or one or more facilities or operating units within a single establishment, to another location, inside or outside of this State.” Under the NJ WARN Act, “establishment” means “a single place of employment which has been longer than three years, but shall not include a temporary construction site.” It may include “a single location or a group of contiguous locations.”
 
NJ WARN imposes harsher penalties for non-compliance than does the WARN Act. In particular, while an aggrieved employee may recover up to sixty days’ pay under the federal law, employers that fail to provide the mandatory notice under NJ WARN are obligated to pay terminated employees severance equal to one week of pay for each full year of employment.
 
Conclusion
 
Recent legislative developments in Washington, D.C. and Trenton have changed rights and obligations in the workplace on issues of leave for military family members, religious accommodation, and plant closings. Employers should consult with counsel regarding the application of these new laws to specific situations
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