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WARN Act’s Natural Disaster Defense Inapplicable to Covid Layoff

June 15, 2022, 6:54 PM

An oil-industry employer that laid off workers due to the adverse economic consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic must face a proposed class action alleging its failure to give the employees 60 days advance notice violated the WARN Act, the Fifth Circuit said Wednesday.

Covid-19 doesn’t qualify as a natural disaster for purposes of an exception to the law’s notice requirement, the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit said.

The law doesn’t define the term “natural disaster,” the court said. But it refers to earthquakes, floods, and droughts as examples, with no mention of viruses or illnesses, it added. ...