Layoffs often accompany corporate bankruptcy, and employers should be aware of the legal obligations that impact mass layoffs and plant closures. Most notably, the federal WARN Act requires employers to notify the workforce of a mass layoff, a temporary shutdown, or a closure of all or part of a business.
Employers that fail to provide adequate notice could be on the hook for damages of back pay and benefits-related compensation per employee for each day the company violated the WARN Act (up to 60 days).
A majority of today’s large Chapter 11 cases are structured as quick Section 363 sales of all the debtor’s assets followed by confirmation of a plan of liquidation, dismissal of the case, or a conversion to a Chapter 7. The purchaser in the sale is often one of the debtor’s prepetition secured or undersecured lenders, which may also act as the debtor-inpossession (DIP) lender and purchase the debtor’s assets through a credit bid, with no cash consideration.
On August 4, 2017, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals issued its ruling in Varela v. AE Liquidation, Inc. (In re AE Liquidation, Inc.), 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 14359 (3d Cir.
In Czyzewski v. Sun Capital Partners, Inc.1, the United States District Court for the District of Delaware affirmed a Bankruptcy Court determination that a private equity firm was not liable for its subsidiary portfolio company’s failure to provide adequate notice of a plant closing under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN Act).
At first glance, Stanziale v. MILK072011, looks like someone suing over a bad expiration date and conjures up images of Ron Burgundy proclaiming “milk was a bad choice.” But in actuality Stanziale is much more interesting: it answers whether one can breach their fiduciary duty by exposing an employer to a claim under the aptly-named WARN Act, which requires employers to tip off their workers to a possible job loss.
In the world of private equity, vast sums of money are raised by private investors who pool their money into collective funds in order to acquire companies, i.e., a “portfolio company”, with the goal of eventually flipping the portfolio company at a significant profit. Sometimes, however, that bet goes wrong, and the portfolio company is sold at a loss or, worse, liquidated in bankruptcy.
One week after Aegis Mortgage Corp. filed for chapter 11 in Delaware, a group of former employees filed their complaint seeking class certification over allegations that Aegis Mortgage Corporation, Aegis Wholesale Corporation and Cerberus Capital Management, L.P.—all allegedly acting as their employer—violated the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act when they failed to give over 400 employees 60 days' notice prior to a mass termination by Aegis Mortgage on August 7, 2007.
Delaware Bankruptcy Court Holds that Private Equity Firm And Its Portfolio Company Are Not Liable Under Federal WARN Act
The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act in the U.S. requires that employers give sixty days’ notice to its employees before effecting a mass layoff.
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