The question of what constitutes a “single site of employment” for the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, better known as the WARN Act, is a step closer to being answered.
This Act requires employers to provide workers at a single site of employment a minimum of 60 days’ warning prior to conducting mass layoffs.
This has raised many questions concerning what constitutes a single site of employment for employees in remote working arrangements.
Now, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia has issued a decision concerning a motion to certify a class under Rule 23(B)(3) in the case of Piron v. General Dynamics Information Technology Inc., which may shed some more light on the issue. In this case, the proposed class had worked for the employer under a flexible working arrangement policy which permitted them to choose whether to work from home or the office and according to evidence presented during litigation, employees frequently changed their working location throughout the course of their duties.
However, when these workers were laid off, they filed a class-action lawsuit against their employer alleging violation of the WARN Act’s requirement to provide 60 days’ notice prior to mass layoffs at a single site of employment. The employer argued against this class certification, arguing that the plaintiffs could not fulfill the predominance requirement for class certification because they did not uniformly work at a single site of employment. The employer argued that this would instead require the court to individually examine the situation of each employee.
In judging whether the plaintiffs met the standard for class certification, the court used the WARN Act standard for employees without a fixed location. Under this standard, “the single site of employment to which they are assigned as their home base, from which their work is assigned, or to which they report will be the single site in which they are covered for WARN purposes.”
The Court further determined that this remote-work policy would guide its determination of what constituted the place of employment for all of the workers. As a result, the Court found that the place of employment was, in fact, common to all class members and thus met the predominance requirements for Rule 23(b)(3).
This ruling has significant implications for the considerable number of employers who have or are implementing remote and flexible work policies. This ruling illustrates that employers must consider when performing layoffs which include remote workers, whether or not they may trigger the need for notice under the WARN Act that otherwise would have been inapplicable.
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