Employers who fail to give proper notification of a mass layoff could be subject to penalties, including payment of wages the laid-off employees would have received after the required notification of the layoff. Individual workers whose employment has been inappropriately terminated in a mass layoff may bring a lawsuit against the employer on behalf of other workers who are similarly situated. This sort of class action can result not only in compensation for employees' lost wages, but also civil penalties against the employer.
Consider a recently filed class action in California. Former employees of Space Explorations Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) say the company didn't provide adequate notification of a mass layoff and failed to pay wages owed to the employees prior to their termination. The lawsuit claims that about 400 employees were laid off on July 21 with no advance notice. Two former employees have brought the lawsuit on behalf of the class of workers who were abruptly laid off.
Under the California Labor Code, employers are required to notify employees 60 days in advance of the date a mass layoff takes effect. The lawsuit claims that the non-exempt employees in the class are due back-pay for the 60 days prior to the abrupt mass layoff.
The plaintiffs are also seeking compensatory damages and class certification.
Whether you're on the employee side or the employer side of a legal dispute, the outcome is going to depend on the specifics of your particular case, but also on legal skill and preparation. If you have concerns about an employment-related dispute, then please visit our labor and employment law overview.
Source: Washington Examiner, "Class action filed against SpaceX over mass layoffs," Aug. 7, 2014