The WARN Act has an expansivedefinition of full-time employee as including any employee whoworks at least 20 hours per week. (Photo: Shutterstock)

When an employer is closing a plant or engaging in a masslayoff, it is important for it to keep its WARN Act obligations inmind. Lately, supermarket chains in Florida, including Lucky'sMarket, Earth Fare and Penn Dutch Food Centers, have learned thatlesson the hard way after each has been sued in class actions forfailing to comply with the WARN Act. The WARN Act stands forWorkers Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, and is afederal law that requires covered employers to provide employeeswith a 60-day advanced notice of the layoffs. The failure of anemployer to provide the required notice can open it up to a federallawsuit by employees.

Lucky's and Earth Fare were each sued in February under the WARNAct. In the case of Lucky's, Lucky's opened its first store inFlorida in 2016 and had a store locally in Fort Lauderdale. Lucky'sopened a total of eight stores in Florida. However, due to thedivestment of national retailer Kroger in late 2019, Lucky'sannounced the closure of all of its Florida stores, as well as 32stores across the country. The problem is that Lucky's announcedthe closure of the stores on Jan. 24, with an expected layoff dateof Feb. 12. This was not sufficient advanced notice to employees ofthe store closures.

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