Is COVID a “Natural Disaster” Under the WARN Act?

Building resilience to Australian flood disasters in the face of climate change

Unprecedented floods in Northern Rivers, NSW, and in south‐east Queensland have caused deaths and devastation and disrupted health and other services and facilities. Deaths from drowning, injuries, poisonings and infections are typically the immediate health impacts of floods.1 However, these direct impacts are only the tip of the health iceberg. Flood‐affected communities in Australia and other parts of the world have experienced long‐lasting mental health effects, such as depression, anxiety and post‐traumatic stress disorder…READ ON

‘Historic’ weather: why a cocktail of natural disasters is battering the US

Summer in the American west is off to an explosive start, with extreme weather events ravaging multiple states in recent weeks.

“None of us planned a 500-year flood event on the Yellowstone when we designed these facilities.”

Debi Meling, public works director

In Montana, historic flooding devastated communities and infrastructure in and around Yellowstone national park and forced a rare closure. Further south, reservoirs sank to new lows, triple-digit heatwaves left millions sweltering, and wildfires ripped through Arizona, New Mexico, Alaska and California.

These layered disasters offer a glimpse of what’s to come. As temperatures continue to climb, extreme events will not just increase – they’re more likely to overlap, causing more calamity and testing the limits of the nation’s resilience and recovery…READ ON

Is COVID a “Natural Disaster” Under the WARN Act?

As manufacturing employers are well aware, the COVID pandemic has forced many employers to furlough or layoff employees. Some operations were closed altogether, while others furloughed employees for various periods of time.

Often those layoffs or furloughs were longer than initially anticipated and in some circumstances triggered the WARN Act, requiring the employer to provide the employees suffering job loss with 60 days’ notice of their termination. Calculating when and if the WARN Act is triggered can be complicated, especially when there are rolling layoffs. This is especially true in the context of the COVID pandemic when business conditions were changing rapidly. Often COVID related shut downs or layoffs were necessary on short notice and employers did not always have the ability to provide 60 days’ notice to the laid off employees. The WARN Act provides for a few exceptions to the notice requirement that excuse non-compliance with the 60 day notice requirement, including a “natural disaster” exception. The First Circuit Court of Appeals recently decided whether COVID related layoffs qualify as a “natural disaster” under the WARN Act…READ ON

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