Earlier this month, the retail chain, Wet Seal announced they were abruptly closing the majority of their stores, resulting in the lay-off of over 3,000 employees. The employees were given only a day's worth of notice and had to forfeit accrued vacation and benefits. We previously blogged about it here. While at the time the disgruntled took to social media as an outlet of frustration, the former employees have now turned to the law for help.
Plaintiffs Katelin Pruitt and Lalaine Ortega have filed a class action suit on behalf of themselves and those similarly situation in federal court. While the two worked in states outside of California, the suit is filed in the Central District of California, where the company's headquarters are.
Plaintiffs and their attorneys allege that Wet Seal violated the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (“WARN Act”) because it did not provide a legal amount of notice to employees who were being laid off. According to the WARN ACT, a qualified employer must give 60 days' notice for a mass layoff to take place that results in a force reduction of 33%.
As the window signs that have been circulating around social media suggest, employees were not given such ample notice. In fact, they were discouraged from finding other jobs and were told the stores were undergoing a remodeling, hence things having to be taken down.
Further, the suit alleges that the company failed to pay out employees for earned vacation time and overtime. The company also immediately cut health and medical insurance to terminated employees. And while in California dissolving sick pay is not unlawful, it just added insult to injury when accrued sick time also disappeared.
A day after the suit was filed, Wet Seal filed for bankruptcy. Despite this, the plaintiffs are calling for 60 days' worth of wages and benefits for those who qualify as class members. They are also seeking attorneys' fees and costs.