The shutdown of 99-year-old trucking company Yellow Corporation resulted in 30,000 workers being out of work. But if the company thought that its action would address its financial problems, it was mistaken. Dockworker and union steward Armando Rivera has sued the company on behalf of himself and a proposed class of other laid-off workers, and the violations cited in his complaint hold particular interest for Yellow workers employed in New Jersey.

Mr. Rivera worked for Yellow in California for approximately 25 years before being notified of the mass layoff. His notice came on the same day that he and 600 of his fellow workers at the dock lost their jobs. No notice was provided ahead of time, and his suit claims that this is a violation of both California and New Jersey’s versions of the WARN (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification) Act, which helps ensure advance notice in cases of qualified plant closings and mass layoffs. In California and other states, employers are required to provide 60 days’ layoff notice, while the state of New Jersey’s Millville Dallas Airmotive Plant Job Loss Notification Act requires employers planning plant closings or mass layoffs to provide 90 days’ notification, as well as one week of severance pay for each year that an employee has been with the firm. Though some states across the country have exceptions to the 60-day notice in cases of abrupt shutdowns of failing companies, this is not the case for either California or New Jersey.

Mr. Rivera’s suit includes every impacted Yellow employee and names each of its four operating companies — YRC Freight, Holland, New Penn, and Reddaway — as co-defendants. Citing the companies’ failure to provide WARN Act notices, he is seeking wages and benefits for the required notification periods, as well as the required severance pay for Yellow’s New Jersey employees. Notably, in labor-friendly New Jersey, not only are workers entitled to an additional month of pay and the severance pay based on their years of employment, but also an additional four weeks of severance pay specifically for failure to provide advance notice.

For its part, Yellow did file WARN Act notices in a few of the states where they were about to lay off employees, but none of those notices were filed with the required 60 days’ notice. The company is attempting to excuse its lack of advance notice both by pointing to the exceptions that exist in some states and by asserting that issuing notices would have deterred potential investors.

The company is offering a separation agreement that provides two weeks of severance for employees with the company for nine years or less and 0.25 weeks of severance pay for those with the company for ten years or more, but this falls far short of the time required by New Jersey law.

The attorneys at Schorr & Associates are here to ensure that New Jersey workers receive the compensation that they are entitled to. For information on how we can help, contact us today.