What is the California WARN Act?

Big business changes happen, but if an employer plans a big move, workforce reduction, or shutdown, they typically have to give their employees a heads up. And that is the subject of this article: Your rights under the WARN Act in California. The WARN Act is the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act that requires many employers to give their employees advance notice of mass layoffs or significant relocations. If your employer does not fulfill this obligation, they need to pay.

So, what is the best way to make sure you get what your employer owes you after they commit a WARN Act violation? Talk to us. At Bibiyan Law Group, P.C., our experienced employment attorneys do not let employers play around with our clients’ time or money. We can skillfully, aggressively, and successfully pursue the legal relief and respect our clients deserve, and we have the track record to prove it. 

Now that you know who to call when your boss breaks the law, let’s discuss what you are entitled to under the WARN Act. 

WARN Act Rights

There is a federal WARN Act and a California WARN Act. Both laws require an employer to give employees 60 days’ notice regarding significant business changes. However, different events and circumstances trigger an employer’s obligation to comply with WARN Act provisions.

Actions Covered Under the Federal WARN Act

Under the federal WARN Act, a covered employer must give its employees 60 days’ notice regarding a plant closure or layoff. The law defines covered closures and layoffs in the following ways:

  • A layoff is an elimination (within a 30-day period) of 50 to 499 full-time employees that make up at least 33% of the full-time workforce at a single worksite;
  • A layoff is also an elimination of 500 or more employees; and 
  • A plant closure is a closure that involves 50 or more employees in a 30-day period.  

Employers that have to comply with this requirement are employers that have 100 or more full-time employees who have been employed for six months or more in the preceding year.  

Actions Covered Under the California WARN Act

California’s WARN Act covers more employers and gives more employees rights than the federal WARN Act. The WARN Act in California applies to the following circumstances: 

  • Layoffs of 50 or more employees in a 30-day period, 
  • Plant closures that affect a workforce of any size, and 
  • Relocations of 100 miles or more that involve a workforce of any size. 

An employer has WARN obligations under California law if it had at least 75 full-time or part-time employees who were employed for at least six months within the preceding year. 

Notice Obligations

An employer must give you a 60-day WARN notice in writing and deliver it in a reasonable manner. A reasonable way to deliver a WARN notice can include the following:

  • Personal delivery,
  • First-class mail, or
  • A written notice that is included in your pay envelope (a ticketed or preprinted notice that is regularly included in your paycheck does not count). 

If your employer does not submit this notice when it should, you likely have the right to recover compensation. 


The least an employer wanting to move or close shop can do is forewarn its employees. But if an employer fails to extend this courtesy to its workforce, an employee might be able to recover the following remedies: 

  • Under the federal WARN Act, back pay and benefits for the period of the violation, up to 60 days; or 
  • Under California’s WARN Act, medical costs, attorney fees, and back pay covering the period of the violation, up to 60 days

The law might also impose a $500-per-day penalty for each day that an employer is in violation. To enforce your rights to WARN Act relief, you can initiate a lawsuit in federal or state court

WARN Act Exemptions

Your employer might not have to provide you with a 60-day notice about a business change if one of the following applies: 

  • Your employer offers to transfer you to a different work location within a reasonable commuting distance; 
  • The closure or layoff constitutes a strike or layoff that was not meant to avoid WARN Act responsibilities;
  • You were hired as a seasonal employee;
  • The closure is happening because of a natural disaster or unforeseeable event; or
  • Your employer has submitted certain documents to the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR), and the DIR concludes that your employer was seeking capital or business that could have been negatively affected by a WARN notice. 

You should speak to a knowledgeable employment law attorney about whether an exemption applies to your case.

Speak to an Attorney Today

At Bibiyan Law Group, we understand what it is like to be mistreated by an employer, and we know how to hold employers accountable. As a child, founding attorney Mr. David Bibiyan saw firsthand the devastating effects the unfair practices of an employer can have on a household. And now, Mr. Bibiyan and his extensive roster of experienced attorneys are dedicated to ensuring that employers do not take advantage of their workers. We are aggressive, top-rated attorneys who have recovered tens of millions on behalf of employees in California. Please call us at 310-431-6591 or contact us online for help.

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David Bibiyan is a distinguished attorney at Tomorrow Law, renowned for his expertise in employment law. With a strong focus on representing employees in various workplace disputes, he has become a trusted advocate for those facing discrimination, harassment, wrongful termination, and wage and hour issues. Bibiyan’s approach is characterized by a deep understanding of both state and federal employment laws, ensuring that his clients receive knowledgeable and effective representation. His commitment to justice is evident in his dedication to each case, where he meticulously works to secure the best possible outcomes for his clients. Bibiyan’s reputation is built on a foundation of successful case resolutions, marked by his skillful negotiation and, when necessary, aggressive litigation strategies. His work at Tomorrow Law reflects a genuine passion for defending workers’ rights and promoting fair employment practices.

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