Apr 11

Layoffs at Titan Machinery Raise Questions

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Titan Machinery lays off 22 in Gallatin County

According to an article in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle by Jason Bacaj, Titan Machinery laid off twenty-two people in Gallatin County without providing any notice.

The article details the position of the CEO of Titan Machinery regarding the failure to provide notice to its workers. The CEO, David Meyer, justified Titan Machinery’s position on the grounds that leaking word that the company would shut down eight stores and lay off 4.5 percent of its workforce prior to publishing an earnings report would have violated federal Securities and Exchange Commission regulations.  Conducting lay-offs without notice could trigger other laws, both state and federal.

Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act

One federal law, the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (often referred to as the WARN Act), is intended to provide workers of advance notice of plant closures and mass layoffs so that workers have time to adjust and seek other employment. The WARN Act distinguishes between “plant closings” and “mass layoffs.” In general, the WARN Act requires employers of 100 or more full-time employees to give at least 60-days notice if a “plant closing” results in an employment loss at a single site of employment during any 30-day period for 50 or more employees. The WARN Act also requires 60-days notice for a “mass layoff,” which is defined as a reduction in force which is not the result of a plant closing, and results in an employment loss at the single site of employment during any 30-day period for at least 33% of full-time employees and at least 50 full-time employees. Therefore, the WARN Act would be inapplicable to a single site of employment that employed less than 50 employees.

Montana’s Wrongful Discharge From Employment Act

Under Montana law, lay-offs without notice would be subject to Montana’s Wrongful Discharge from Employment Act.  By Montana statute, a “discharge” under the Act includes “elimination of the job, layoff for lack of work, failure to recall or rehire, and any other cutback in the number of employees for a legitimate business reason.”  Under Montana law, a discharge is wrongful if:

(a) it was in retaliation for the employee’s refusal to violate public policy or for reporting a violation of public policy;

(b) the discharge was not for good cause and the employee had completed the employer’s probationary period of employment; or

(c) the employer violated the express provisions of its own written personnel policy.

Mont. Code Ann. § 39-2-904.

Violation of the Wrongful Discharge from Employment Act could subject the employer to paying four years worth of wages and benefits.

It will be interesting to see how things play out with the layoffs at Titan Machinery, if at all. If you have questions regarding employment law matters, please contact the McGrady Law Firm. Follow Philip McGrady on Google+.

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