Due to the steep decline in the price of oil, there are predictions that mass layoffs may soon come to the areas of North Dakota that recently benefited from the oil boom.

In the past several years, North Dakota had one of the highest rates of job growth due to the expanding oil industry there. The oil boom resulted in fast-food jobs that reportedly paid up to $20 per hour and caused the average rent in Williston, North Dakota to exceed the cost of rent in cities like New York and Los Angeles.

But times are changing. Between June of 2014 and January of 2015, the average cost of Brent crude oil dropped by more than half, from $115 per barrel to $49 per barrel. Now, CNN is reporting that at least one CEO is predicting that there could be as many as 20,000 layoffs in North Dakota by June due to a significant decrease in oil production.

Hopefully, the prediction of 20,000 job losses will not come to pass. If it does, however, here’s what employers should know about mass layoffs in North Dakota:

  • Unlike Minnesota, North Dakota does not have a state “Mini-WARN” act that requires advance notice for mass layoffs or plant closings. But employers may still need to comply with the 60-day notice requirement of the federal Workers Adjustment and Retraining and Notification (“WARN”) Act.
  • For a general summary of what the federal WARN Act requires, when it applies, and which employers are subject to the WARN Act, click here.
  • For a summary of what information needs to be included in a WARN Act notice to employees, click here.
  • For a summary of potential exceptions to the WARN Act’s 60-day notice requirement, click here. But don’t forget that even if an exception applies, some prior notice may still be required.

Takeaway: Employers who are facing potential mass layoffs in North Dakota or elsewhere should make sure to comply with any notice requirements imposed by the federal WARN Act or similar state laws.