Laid-off workers fight for their severance - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Laid-off workers fight for their severance

  • Also on KHQ.comMore>>

  • State Rep: 'Itronix closure a blow for employees, local economy'

    State Rep: 'Itronix closure a blow for employees, local economy'

    OLYMPIA, Wash. - The announcement this week that Itronix will close its Spokane Valley facility at year's end came as a painful jolt for state Rep. Matt Shea.>>
    OLYMPIA, Wash. - The announcement this week that Itronix will close its Spokane Valley facility at year's end came as a painful jolt for state Rep. Matt Shea, who expressed concern for the 300 employees who will lose their jobs, and for the community that will lose a valued contributor to the local economy.>>
  • Savings strategies for military families

    Savings strategies for military families

    SPOKANE, Wash. - Members of the military have special financial-planning needs. And, as a service member, you have access to many valuable investing programs that aren't available to the general public. >>
    SPOKANE, Wash. - Members of the military have special financial-planning needs. And, as a service member, you have access to many valuable investing programs that aren't available to the general public. >>
  • 300 Spokane Valley employees given notice of layoffs

    300 Spokane Valley employees given notice of layoffs

    SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. - Itronix, a Spokane Valley company that manufactures rugged laptops and other mobile devices, announced Monday that 300 employees from the Spokane Valley plant will be laid off. >>
    SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. - Itronix, a Spokane Valley company that manufactures rugged laptops and other mobile devices, announced Monday that 300 employees from the Spokane Valley plant will be laid off. The layoffs become effective April 24, however operations at the Spokane Valley plant will continue through June. INSIDE>> What should you do if you have lost (or are at risk of losing) a job?>>

David Mazer doesn't think he should be cast as a villain. The former CEO of Mazer Corp. had been scrambling to keep his Dayton education publishing firm alive when his bank abruptly halted negotiations for much-needed financing on Dec. 30. Unable to pay wages and mounting bills at the company his father founded 44 years ago, Mazer immediately laid off employees without any severance or notice. He says he had no choice. Mazer sent e-mails to his 296 employees around 5 p.m., telling them it was their last day and adding that "we are sorry for the short notice, but we chose to fight until the very last minute to keep the doors open."

Scott Bent, a 26-year-old editor, was too stunned to pack up his belongings. But when he came back the next morning, he was prepared to fight. Bent organized a suit seeking class-action status against Mazer Corp., demanding severance, vacation pay, and other benefits. Says Bent: "I still have not received my final paycheck." Mazer responds that his hands are tied about the sudden closure, noting "we're angry, too." A spokeswoman for lender KeyBank, now fighting to seize Mazer Corp.'s assets in court, says the bank "exercised its rights under applicable law" in halting funds.


What to do if you are laid off - It has been a tough time for U.S. employment. More than 3.6 million Americans have lost their jobs since early 2008, with nearly 600,000 of those jobs cut in January. While some people have found new positions, the nation's unemployment rate stands at 7.6 percent. What should you do if you have lost (or are at risk of losing) a job? More...

Managers dealing with the trauma of mass layoffs increasingly have something else to worry about: the law. A growing number of jettisoned employees are filing lawsuits for severance pay under the federal Worker Adjustment & Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, and politicians are stiffening rules to protect workers. On Feb. 1 the state of New York lengthened the amount of notice employers must give workers under the WARN Act to 90 days from 60. It also made the law applicable to companies that lay off as few as 25 employees, vs. the previous minimum of 50. Congress is now mulling ways to strengthen the act, and states such as New Jersey and Illinois have beefed up employee protection laws.

Desperate to save money and often struggling to keep their companies solvent, many

Also on KHQ.com

KHQ's Complete Guide to Personal Finance (Including Tax Tips!)
More seeking police jobs in N. Idaho, Spokane
What the stimulus means for you
Stimulus package to create 4,400 jobs at Hanford
How the stimulus helps laid-off workers
What to do if you are laid off
employers are giving in to the temptation to skimp on severance when downsizing. A surprisingly large number aren't giving employees the 60 days' notice or severance pay that's required under the WARN Act. "Companies used to throw their hands up and say, 'Just pay it,' " notes Gerald T. Hathaway, a partner in New York of employment law firm Littler Mendelson. Now, he adds, they're "looking for more certainty that they really have to [pay out], because it's not cheap." Elaine Koch, an employment lawyer at St. Louis-based Bryan Cave, thinks inexperience is a factor: "Some are not fully aware of the laws," she says.

One reason may be the two-decade-old WARN Act has rarely been enforced. WARN also exempts companies that are hit with "unforeseeable circumstances." And the perils of running afoul of the act have not been significant, since employers aren't hit with penalties -- only 60 days in back pay, benefits, and possibly lawyers' fees. Even WARN class actions typically have settled for far less than cases involving gender and discrimination claims. Last July one suit filed by 930 displaced workers at Quaker Fabric was settled for $1 million.

COMPLAINTS RISING

While alleged breaches of the WARN Act and related laws aren't tracked on a national level, employment lawyers across the country say they've seen a marked jump in complaints. Over the past six months, laid-off employees have filed lawsuits over violations of the WARN Act against companies as varied as Lehman Brothers, San Francisco law firm Heller Ehrman, retailer Goody's, electronics chain Tweeter (TWTRQ), and USA Jet Airlines. Even if a company files for bankruptcy, it still needs to give notice in the event of mass layoffs and plant closings -- which means the trustee or debtor in possession may need to pay out those obligations.

For his part, David Mazer says he thought he could obtain financing right up until the bank abruptly ended negotiations. "We can do nothing more now than to offer our apology," he said in a statement to BusinessWeek. That's not good enough for laid-off editor Bent. He has moved in with his in-laws and is picking up freelance jobs while chasing down two months' pay. In August Bent plans to go to law school, where he may major in employment law. "I see it as a way to fight for the cause."

For more on the WARN Act and the challenges companies face complying with it, watch a video report at businessweek.com/go/09/warn.



Reprinted from the Feb. 19, 2009 edition of BusinessWeek.com by special permission
Copyright 2009 by The McGraw-Hill Companies

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • 2 stabbed to death, 1 injured on Portland train by man hurling racial slurs

    2 stabbed to death, 1 injured on Portland train by man hurling racial slurs

    Saturday, May 27 2017 11:29 AM EDT2017-05-27 15:29:58 GMT

    PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Police in Oregon say two people died and another was hurt in a stabbing on a Portland light-rail train after a man yelled racial slurs at two young Muslim women. The Oregonian/OregonLive reports officers arrested a man Friday afternoon who ran from the train.  Portland police Sgt. Pete Simpson says the assailant on the train was ranting on many topics, using "hate speech or biased language," and turned his focus on the women.

    >>

    PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Police in Oregon say two people died and another was hurt in a stabbing on a Portland light-rail train after a man yelled racial slurs at two young Muslim women. The Oregonian/OregonLive reports officers arrested a man Friday afternoon who ran from the train.  Portland police Sgt. Pete Simpson says the assailant on the train was ranting on many topics, using "hate speech or biased language," and turned his focus on the women.

    >>
  • Post Falls Officer pulls over little girl in power wheels Jeep

    Post Falls Officer pulls over little girl in power wheels Jeep

    Friday, May 26 2017 10:03 PM EDT2017-05-27 02:03:49 GMT

    POST FALLS, Idaho - Hometown Heroes. Every week, we highlight someone who works in public safety for all the good work they do. Tonight is a bit of a change from the typical Hometown Hero. It's the story of a little girl who suddenly became public enemy number one. Pat Eismann was patrolling the area in Post Falls when he noticed something a bit out of the ordinary. "I saw a little girl driving a power wheels jeep down the street," Officer Eismann said....

    >>

    POST FALLS, Idaho - Hometown Heroes. Every week, we highlight someone who works in public safety for all the good work they do. Tonight is a bit of a change from the typical Hometown Hero. It's the story of a little girl who suddenly became public enemy number one. Pat Eismann was patrolling the area in Post Falls when he noticed something a bit out of the ordinary. "I saw a little girl driving a power wheels jeep down the street," Officer Eismann said....

    >>
  • $10,000 bill for getting car stuck in newly poured concrete

    $10,000 bill for getting car stuck in newly poured concrete

    Saturday, May 27 2017 1:02 AM EDT2017-05-27 05:02:32 GMT
    (Mike Palm, The City of Lincoln Public Works and Utilities Department via AP)(Mike Palm, The City of Lincoln Public Works and Utilities Department via AP)

    LINCOLN, Neb,. (AP) - A driver could be facing a $10,000 bill after he plowed into newly poured concrete in Lincoln, Nebraska, and became stuck.      The accident occurred Wednesday on a portion of a road repair project in the state capital. Police spokeswoman Angela Sands said Friday that police won't cite the driver, 19-year-old Shadrach Yasiah. A police incident report says it wasn't obvious that the concrete wasn't dry and that Yasiah 

    >>

    LINCOLN, Neb,. (AP) - A driver could be facing a $10,000 bill after he plowed into newly poured concrete in Lincoln, Nebraska, and became stuck.      The accident occurred Wednesday on a portion of a road repair project in the state capital. Police spokeswoman Angela Sands said Friday that police won't cite the driver, 19-year-old Shadrach Yasiah. A police incident report says it wasn't obvious that the concrete wasn't dry and that Yasiah 

    >>
HD DOPPLER 6i
/