This morning, California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an Executive Order that allows a California employer that is conducting layoffs due to the COVID-19 pandemic to use the newly-created “unforeseen business circumstances” exception to the state’s WARN Act requirements.

More specifically, the order indicates that:

  • Mass layoffs, relocations or closures fall under the newly-created “unforeseen business circumstances” exception to the law, but California employers must still provide notice under the WARN Act requirement as soon as practicable (even if less than 60 days).
  • The content of the notice must include all of the information already required by the California WARN Act and, further, that the mass layoff, relocation or termination/closure is caused by COVID-19-related “business circumstances that were not reasonably foreseeable as of the time that notice would have been required.”
  • The notice must state that “If you have lost your job or been laid off temporarily, you may be eligible for Unemployment Insurance (UI).  More information on UI and other resources available for workers is available at labor.ca.gov/coronavirus2019.”

The governor’s order has been issued as a result of the large number of employers that have had to close rapidly without providing their employees advance notice as otherwise required by California because of the need to prevent or mitigate the spread of COVID-19.  Please note, based on a 2017 California court of appeal opinion, California WARN notice is required even in the case of temporary mass layoffs (e.g., mass layoffs that span a period of under 6 months).  See International Bhd. of Boilermakers, et al. v. NASSCO Holdings Inc., 17 Cal. App. 5th 1105 (2017).

Finally, by March 23, 2020 the state’s Labor and Workforce Development will provide guidance to the public as to how the Order will be implemented.

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Photo of Tony Oncidi Tony Oncidi

Anthony J. Oncidi is the co-chair of the Labor & Employment Law Department and heads the West Coast Labor & Employment group in the firm’s Los Angeles office.

Tony represents employers and management in all aspects of labor relations and employment law, including…

Anthony J. Oncidi is the co-chair of the Labor & Employment Law Department and heads the West Coast Labor & Employment group in the firm’s Los Angeles office.

Tony represents employers and management in all aspects of labor relations and employment law, including litigation and preventive counseling, wage and hour matters, including class actions, wrongful termination, employee discipline, Title VII and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, executive employment contract disputes, sexual harassment training and investigations, workplace violence, drug testing and privacy issues, Sarbanes-Oxley claims and employee raiding and trade secret protection. A substantial portion of Tony’s practice involves the defense of employers in large class actions, employment discrimination, harassment and wrongful termination litigation in state and federal court as well as arbitration proceedings, including FINRA matters.

Tony is recognized as a leading lawyer by such highly respected publications and organizations as the Los Angeles Daily JournalThe Hollywood Reporter, and Chambers USA, which gives him the highest possible rating (“Band 1”) for Labor & Employment.  According to Chambers USA, clients say Tony is “brilliant at what he does… He is even keeled, has a high emotional IQ, is a great legal writer and orator, and never gives up.” Other clients report:  “Tony has an outstanding reputation” and he is “smart, cost effective and appropriately aggressive.” Tony is hailed as “outstanding,” particularly for his “ability to merge top-shelf lawyerly advice with pragmatic business acumen.” He is highly respected in the industry, with other commentators lauding him as a “phenomenal strategist” and “one of the top employment litigators in the country.”

“Tony is the author of the treatise titled Employment Discrimination Depositions (Juris Pub’g 2020; www.jurispub.com), co-author of Proskauer on Privacy (PLI 2020), and, since 1990, has been a regular columnist for the official publication of the Labor and Employment Law Section of the State Bar of California and the Los Angeles Daily Journal.

Tony has been a featured guest on Fox 11 News and CBS News in Los Angeles. He has been interviewed and quoted by leading national media outlets such as The National Law JournalBloomberg News, The New York Times, and Newsweek and Time magazines. Tony is a frequent speaker on employment law topics for large and small groups of employers and their counsel, including the Society for Human Resource Management (“SHRM”), PIHRA, the National CLE Conference, National Business Institute, the Employment Round Table of Southern California (Board Member), the Council on Education in Management, the Institute for Corporate Counsel, the State Bar of California, the California Continuing Education of the Bar Program and the Los Angeles and Beverly Hills Bar Associations. He has testified as an expert witness regarding wage and hour issues as well as the California Fair Employment and Housing Act and has served as a faculty member of the National Employment Law Institute. He has served as an arbitrator in an employment discrimination matter.

Tony is an appointed Hearing Examiner for the Los Angeles Police Commission Board of Rights and has served as an Adjunct Professor of Law and a guest lecturer at USC Law School and a guest lecturer at UCLA Law School.

Photo of Cole Lewis Cole Lewis

Cole Lewis is an associate in the Labor & Employment Department.

Cole graduated from UCLA School of Law, where he worked as a law clerk for Public Counsel of Los Angeles and advocated for benefit recipients in the Department of Public Social Services.

Cole Lewis is an associate in the Labor & Employment Department.

Cole graduated from UCLA School of Law, where he worked as a law clerk for Public Counsel of Los Angeles and advocated for benefit recipients in the Department of Public Social Services. He has also previously worked as a summer associate in Proskauer’s Labor & Employment Department.

Prior to law school, Cole received his Bachelor’s degree in Journalism at Indiana University, where he graduated cum laude.