Internat. Brotherhood of Boilermakers etc. v. NASSCO etc.Annotate this Case
A labor union and several employees sued an employer, alleging the employer failed to provide notice before ordering about 90 employees not to return to work for four to five weeks. Under a California law known as the California WARN Act, employers must provide 60 days' notice to affected employees before ordering a "mass layoff." The employer countered that the California WARN Act was inapplicable because its action was a temporary furlough and not a "mass layoff." All parties recognized there was no liability under the parallel federal WARN Act because the federal law applied to a temporary layoff only if the layoff "exceed[s] 6 months." On cross summary judgment/adjudication motions, the parties primarily raised the issue of whether the employer had a statutory duty to notify the affected employees even though the layoff was temporary, rather than permanent. The superior court concluded the California WARN Act applied; and therefore the employer owed a statutory notification duty to the affected workers. The court thus granted summary adjudication in plaintiffs' favor on this issue. The court then held a one-day bench trial on damages issues, the result of which was that judgment was entered in plaintiffs' favor, and awarded the workers $211,405 in backpay and lost pension benefits. On appeal, the employer contended the court erred in interpreting the California WARN Act as applying to temporary layoffs. Based on its analysis of the statutory language, statutory scheme, legislative history, federal WARN law, and policies underlying the California WARN Act, the Court of Appeal determined the employer had a duty to provide statutory notice under the particular circumstances of this case, even if the layoffs were not permanent and were for less than six months.