Did Sprint violate federal law when it laid-off 1,440 workers?

April 3, 2014
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    TheDarkThing

    Last March, Sprint may have violated federal law when it laid-off 1,440 workers.

    In a release, the Communications Workers of America say that Sprint Corp. could owe $4.5 million in back pay to the recently laid off workers. Sprint would owe an average of about $3,100 in back pay to the call center workers and also would be obligated to continue benefits for its former employees through May 17.

    Specifically at issue is whether Sprint provided the required 60-day notice under certain federal and state laws. The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act requires 60 days’ notice before an employer cuts pay and benefits in the event of mass layoffs of 50 or more.

    Sprint allegedly laid off the workers on March 18 and told the employees that their jobs would be terminated on March 25 with pay through April 8. Sprint filed a report to the Kansas Department of Commerce on March 18, saying layoffs would affect 477 employees, according to kansasworks.com.

    Sprint spent more than $165 million in severance and other expenses as part of layoffs in the fourth quarter, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

    Late Tuesday, Sprint issued a response rejecting the claims.

    “Every employee impacted by these job reductions received a minimum of 60 days’ pay and benefits. In some states, where the law requires it, employees received 90 days’ pay and benefits.”

    It should be noted that what the CWA alleges is that that Sprint didn’t provide adequate notice under the WARN Act, which requires at least 60 or 90 days’ notice before an employer cuts pay and benefits in the event of mass layoffs of 50 or more.

    Violations of the WARN Act are not uncommon. Early in 2013, ESPN lost a lawsuit alleging that ESPN Zone in Baltimore shut down one of their restaurants without giving proper notice to the employees. During August of 2012, Solyndra LLC, the a solar-panel maker, reached a $3.5 million settlement with former workers who claimed they received inadequate layoff notices.

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