Several employers have received an email from the New York State Department of Labor (“NYSDOL”) related to WARN notices that were sent in 2020 after Governor Cuomo declared a disaster emergency for the State of New York due to COVID-19. In providing such notices, many employers relied upon the unforeseeable business circumstances exception under NY WARN. All WARN notices received by the NYSDOL are assigned an event number and details of the notice are documented by the NYSDOL on their website at https://labor.ny.gov/app/warn/.
We contacted the NYSDOL regarding these recent email inquiries and have been advised that the NYSDOL is in the process of following up on over a thousand WARN notices filed with the Department between March and July of 2020. We were further advised that the NYSDOL’s intent in following up with employers is to determine whether the reported employees remain laid off in an effort to provide assistance to them in finding new employment as New York starts to reopen and lift restrictions.
We were also advised that the NYSDOL is not in a “penalty phase” with respect to WARN notices and the current inquiry is not meant to be punitive; rather it is intended to help those persons who are still out of work. Our understanding is that the NYSDOL has hired a number of employees to complete this task and their goal is to follow up and close out all the WARN notices that were opened in 2020.
* * *
If you have received such an email inquiry from the NYSDOL and you need assistance in providing a response or if you have questions or would like additional information, please contact any of our Labor & Employment attorneys or the primary EGS attorney with whom you work