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A growing number of TikTok users are touting a decades-old labor law that they say could give workers a heads-up about impending layoffs, but experts say the videos are breeding misconceptions.
Why it matters: The social media trend follows warnings from the Federal Reserve that economic pain and job losses are likely this year as the U.S. central bank fights inflation — and the tech sector has already been hit hard by layoffs.
Yes, but: Social media chatter around the WARN Act is creating some misunderstandings, says Sara Moore, a partner at the Gordon and Rees law office in San Francisco.
Background: Passed by Congress in 1988, the WARN Act requires most companies with 100 or more employees to officially disclose certain layoffs 60 days in advance.
Though many companies’ layoffs qualify for an official WARN Act notice, the criteria are “complex,” the Department of Labor notes. Some of them include:
Zoom in: Several states have their own WARN notice websites, where people can read which companies are announcing layoffs.
Moore, the San Francisco attorney, said it’s true that certain companies are required to report their forthcoming layoffs in situations where there is a closure at a specific location or if a certain number of people are being let go.
Meanwhile, if your company is big enough to qualify for an official notice, you would most likely hear about the layoffs in the news, says Jon Klinghoffer, a lawyer at Goldberg Kohn who defends employers in WARN Act cases.
Layoffs are commonplace now in the tech sector. More than 500 tech companies have announced layoffs since June of last year, including Amazon, Google, Meta, and Microsoft.
The bottom line: The WARN Act promotes corporate transparency and provides key information to workers about potentially life-changing job events — but it’s often not the secret weapon some on social media are making it out to be.
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