On June 14, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) reintroduced the Forewarn Act (S. 3297) in the Senate. This legislation would amend the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act by requiring more and smaller employers to notify workers of mass firings or plant closings and increasing employer penalties and enforcement mechanisms for noncompliance.

Generally, the Forewarn Act would apply to employers with at least 75 employees, reduced from the current 100-employee threshold required to initiate coverage. Additionally, the Act would reduce the number of laid off employees needed to constitute a plant closing from 50 to 25, and lower the mass layoff trigger. Moreover, the measure would require an employer to provide 90-day written notice (up from the current 60-day notice mandate) to employees and appropriate state and local governments before ordering a plant closing or mass layoff. The notification must include the reason for the plant closing or mass layoff, how many employees would be affected, whether the employer has jobs elsewhere, a statement of each employee’s right to wages and benefits, and a statement of available DOL employment and training services. Finally, the bill would authorize the DOL to enforce the terms of the Act, and increase employer penalties for violations to double back pay. Under current law, an employer is liable for regular back pay only.

This bill has been referred to the Senate committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.