When employees in Wyoming lose their jobs in a layoff or plant closing, they have limited rights. Unfortunately, employers are not legally prohibited from closing a plant or laying off workers in the first place. However, workers may have other rights.
If you are in a union, your collective bargaining agreement may give you some options. For instance, the agreement might give you the right to be considered first for rehire or to “bump” employees with less seniority who were not laid off. Your union rep can tell you whether employees can exercise any layoff rights.
Employees may also have the right to notice before they lose their jobs. The federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act requires employers to notify employees who will lose their jobs in a mass layoff or plant closure. Employees who don’t get the notice required by law are entitled to damages.
Some states have similar notice laws, often called “mini-WARN” laws. In a few states, employers also have to provide health insurance continuation or severance for a period after the layoffs. However, Wyoming doesn’t have a mini-WARN law. In Wyoming, employees have rights only through the WARN Act.
This article explains the rights of Wyoming employees under the WARN Act. For articles on other rights you may have if you are terminated, see our Losing or Leaving Your Job page, where you’ll find articles on continuing your health benefits, when you must receive your final paycheck, and much more.
Small employers do not have to comply with WARN. Employers must give notice of impending job cuts only if they have:
WARN applies only to mass layoffs and plant closings, as defined by the law. To meet the definition, a certain number or percentage of employees must lose their jobs.
Wyoming employers must give notice 60 days in advance of a plant closing or mass layoff. All employees who are targeted to lose their jobs must receive notice. In addition, union representatives for any employees who will lose their jobs must be notified.
The notice must include information such as the date when layoffs are expected to begin, whether the layoffs are expected to be permanent, and the date when the employee will receive a termination letter.
The law recognizes that employers can’t always give notice 60 days in advance. In some cases, employers can give less notice – or no notice at all – if it’s impossible to give the notice required by WARN.
An employer doesn’t have to give notice of job cuts necessitated by an employee strike or lockout. An employer also doesn’t have to give notice before laying off employees who were hired only for a temporary project that has been completed or before shutting down a temporary facility. However, this exception applies only if the employees knew that their jobs were temporary when they were hired.
Employers may give less than 60 days’ notice in a few situations. An employer who relies on one of these exceptions must give as much notice as possible and state, in its written notice to employees, why it couldn’t give more notice.
Although the federal Department of Labor is responsible for interpreting and explaining WARN through regulations, it isn’t authorized to hear complaints, issue citations, or sue employers that violate the law. If your employer violates WARN, you must file a lawsuit to enforce your rights.
Workers who don’t receive the notice required by WARN can be awarded all compensation and benefits lost due to the WARN violation, up to the full 60 days WARN requires. This amount is reduced by any wages earned or severance payments the employer made voluntarily during that time. For example, if an employer gave notice 15 days in advance of a mass layoff, it owes employees damages for the remaining 45 days.
If your employer violates WARN, consult with an experienced Wyoming employment attorney. Employees who win a WARN lawsuit are entitled to attorney fees, which gives attorneys an incentive to take a good case. Also, WARN violations typically affect a large number of employees. This means an attorney might be willing to take on a group of employees in a class action.