Whether it’s a change in a client’s existing business structure, the acquisition of another entity, or a downturn in an economic sector, the attorneys in the Ogletree Deakins’ RIF/WARN Practice Group have extensive experience working with businesses in almost every industry. Our attorneys are knowledgeable in designing RIF policies and RIF selection documents to help employers of all sizes defend against discrimination claims, including training your decision-makers on the right way to choose employees for the RIF. We have advised numerous clients on the complex and sometimes ambiguous requirements of the WARN Act and the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA). In addition, our attorneys are well-versed in the intricacies of ERISA and the federal tax code and how they affect RIFs, mass layoffs, or plant closings, and how employers can design voluntary and involuntary severance plans to meet these requirements. We can also help ensure that severance packages and agreements address each employer’s particular needs and comply with the latest federal and state court decisions covering multiple-employee terminations.
In particular, our services include:
- Development of strategies for initial planning of RIFs and implementation of RIF materials, including development and application of appropriate eligibility and selection criteria for RIF decision-making and OWBPA compliance, and designing training materials for decision-makers.
- Assessment of WARN Act triggering and coverage events (for both federal WARN and state “mini-WARN” Acts), including employer coverage, number of employees affected, identifying part-time employees for purposes of making coverage decisions, understanding the legal requirements covering temporary employees who may be working at impacted sites, and defining the single “site of employment” that serves as the basis for analyzing whether the WARN Act is triggered.
- Determination and assessment of WARN “look-back” and “look-forward” periods and events.
- Preparation of WARN-compliant notices to affected employees and to government officials.
- Design, preparation, and evaluation of statistical adverse impact analyses and recommendations for addressing potential disparate impact situations. This is done within the attorney-client privilege, which allows for a full and frank discussion of the legal risks associated with a RIF.
- Preparation of OWBPA-compliant disclosure materials, including addressing changes in employee status before and after RIF decisions are made and addressing inclusion of foreign workers (and related immigration issues) in RIFs.
- Preparation of multiple-termination severance and separation agreements that meet federal and state standards for obtaining valid releases.
- Preparation of ERISA-compliant voluntary and involuntary severance plans.
General RIF and WARN Advice