• Proposed Ohio Legislation Requires 90-Day Notice of Layoffs
  • April 21, 2010 | Author: Michelle T. Todd
  • Law Firm: Jackson Lewis LLP - Cleveland Office
  • Legislation pending in the Ohio legislature, the General Assembly, would require that an employer provide 90-day advance notification for mass layoffs, worksite closings or transfers that would result in the loss of 25 employees or more. 

    Under existing Ohio law employers are required to give the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services 7-day advance notification in the event that 50 employees or more will be laid off.  Ohio Rev. Code § 4141.28.

    Notice
    HB 434 would require an employer provide notice to the following parties: 

    • Affected employees;
    • Any representative of the affected employees;
    • The Department of Job and Family Services;
    • The Rapid response team within the Department of Job and Family Services; and
    • The Chief Elected Official of the political subdivision where the reduction will occur.

    Upon receipt of notice, the rapid response team would meet with the employer to discuss public programs that could delay or possibly prevent the reduction.  The response team also would provide counseling and education referrals to the employees affected by the reduction.
    If an employer plans on reducing its workforce by 250 employees or more, the bill requires that the employer give affected employees at least 120 days’ notice.

    Exemptions
    The proposed legislation includes exemptions for certain types of organization or situations:

    • Organizations in existence only temporarily (the affected employees were hired with the understanding that their employment was limited to the duration of the facility, project or undertaking);
    • Where an employer is seeking capital and in “good faith” cannot give the required notice;
    • Employers required to reduce their workforce as a result of “circumstances that were not reasonably foreseeable at the time notice was required”;
    • Reductions in force caused by any form of physical calamity; and
    • Reductions occasioned by a natural disaster or act of war.

    Worksite closings are not exempt from the notice requirements.

    Violations
    Violation of the required notice would result in sanctions, including double back pay, attorney’s fees and costs, economic damages and exemplary damages suffered by the affected employees, payment of the value of benefits for the entire notification period, and fines by the State attorney general or the Department of Job and Family Services.

    Compared with Federal WARN
    Proposed HB 434 is similar to the federal WARN (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification) Act passed in 1989.  However, WARN is more limited in scope, requiring employers with 100 employees or more to give 60-day advance notification of mass layoffs and plant closings.

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    The HB 434 was introduced in the Ohio House of Representatives in February 2010, and recently was referred to the House Commerce and Labor Committee, where it is being reviewed and debated.