Experiencing a job layoff is a traumatic and uncertain time in the lives of many workers. Layoffs can raise questions as to how families will support themselves and how long a household earner could be out of work. Although a layoff can be a trying time, there are steps workers can take to ensure that the cuts are conducted legally and potentially increase their chances of future employment and household stability.
A round of layoffs could be coming to Hawaii soon as Cincinnati Bell Inc. announced its plan to buy Honolulu-based Hawaiian Telecom Inc. and Toronto-based OnX Enterprise Solutions. It is unclear how many workers will be affected by the merger, but two Hawaiian Telecom executives will remain on the board to "ensure that Hawaiian interests are taken into account," according to Zacks, an investment research firm.
How are workers protected during layoffs?
Local employees are likely aware of their broad protections from discrimination and retaliation in the workplace. Although Hawaii is an at-will employment state, employers must still comply with anti-discrimination laws during layoffs. Workers are also entitled to a particular timetable for proper notification, adjustment and retraining.
WARN Act allows time for worker response to layoffs
The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act and the state Plant Closing Notice and Dislocated Worker Law help mitigate the potentially adverse effects of layoffs to Hawaiian workers. These laws may apply to employers with as few as 50 employees depending on the total size of the company's workforce.
Here's what employees can expect under the WARN Act and Plant Closing Notice Law:
- A 60-day notice of a layoff, closing or relocation.
- Severance benefits if it is part of a standard practice or employment contract.
- The right to file a lawsuit if an employer violates the law.
How can an attorney help?
A local employment law attorney can be an advocate for workers going through a layoff. An attorney can investigate the reason for the layoff and give displaced workers a voice in the legal system. An attorney can help:
- Examine the language of a layoff notice to ensure it complies with the law.
- Look into reasons for the layoff for discriminatory practices.
- Analyze an employment contract for severance and non-compete agreements.
Layoffs are an uncertain time for workers, but employee protections in the law help to ease the transition between jobs.