The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) became law in 1989 and requires employers to give a heads up when they plan to close plants or implement mass layoffs. The information is made public and sent to workers and/or labor unions.
As you might imagine, there’s been a lot of WARN filing taking place during the Coronavirus crisis. Entries are displayed on Pennsylvania’s Department of Labor and Industry website and organized via month. Under April’s page, Beasley Media Group, which operates 97.5 the Fanatic and 93.3 WMMR, among other stations, provided this notice:
They are going lay off 63 people in Bala, which the filing says is “expected to be temporary in nature” due to the COVID-19 crisis. That suggests that they’re planning to rehire, but the existence of the word “expected” would make me feel a little woozy if I worked there.
I’m not sure exactly what the timeline is for these layoffs. Two weeks ago, we obtained an email sent from CEO Caroline Beasley, explaining that she would be taking a paycut while the company would implement “a 10% wage cut for salaried full-time employees and a 10% reduction in hours for full-time hourly employees.” That policy was to begin on April 1st and carry through the end of June. There was also a round of national cuts that took place at the end of March, with 67 total positions eliminated and others furloughed.
Entercom also had a round of cuts due to COVID-19. Do they have to file a WARN notice? Not necessarily.
Mass Layoff: A covered employer must give notice if there is to be a mass layoff which does not result from a plant closing, but which will result in an employment loss at the employment site during any 30 day period for 500 or more employees, or for 50-499 employees if they make up at least 33% of the employer’s active workforce. Again, this does not count employees who have worked less than 6 months in the last 12 months or employees who work an average of less than 20 hours a week for that employer. These latter groups, however, are entitled to notice (discussed later).
An employer also must give notice if the number of employment losses which occur during a 30 day period fails to meet the threshold requirements of a plant closing or mass layoff, but the number of employment losses for 2 or more groups of workers, each of which is less than the minimum number needed to trigger notice, reaches the threshold level, during any 90 day period, of either a plant closing or mass layoff. Job losses within any 90 day period will count together toward the WARN threshold levels, unless the employer demonstrates that the employment losses during the 90 day period are the result of separate and distinct actions and causes.
As such, Entercom has not filed, since they don’t meet these parameters.
Some of the other companies of note in the April filings are The Logan Philadelphia Hotel, Parx Racing and Parx Casino, and Sussman Automotive Group. The good thing is that most of these entries appear to be temporary mass layoffs with the intent to rehire and/or restart business after the global pandemic goes away.