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  • Payton Employment Law

Understanding Your Rights as a California Employee During Widespread Layoffs

Is your employer conducting widespread layoffs? It’s important to be aware of your rights and protections under California state law to make sure you’re being treated fairly during this challenging and uncertain time.

Notice of Layoffs

Under the California Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, employers with 75 or more employees must provide a minimum of 60 days' advance notice to affected employees under circumstances specified by the law. This notice allows employees to prepare for the impact of the layoff and seek alternative employment if necessary.

In cases where an employer fails to give proper notice, affected employees may be entitled to receive pay in lieu of notice for up to 60 days. Additionally, employees may be able to recoup medical expenses that would have been covered under an employee benefit plan. Certain exceptions do apply, and the specifics of your rights will depend on the circumstances surrounding the layoff.

Severance Pay

While California law does not mandate severance pay, many employers offer severance packages to laid-off employees. These packages typically include a financial payment in exchange for the employee waiving their rights to pursue legal claims against the employer.

You should always carefully review the terms of any severance agreement and consider consulting with an attorney to ensure you are receiving fair and equitable terms. If you believe you may have valid legal claims, seek legal advice before waiving your rights.

Final Paycheck

California law requires employers to promptly pay all earned wages, including accrued vacation time, to employees who are terminated or laid off. The timeframe for payment depends on the circumstances of the separation, with most cases requiring immediate payment upon termination.

If an employer fails to provide the final paycheck on time, employees may be entitled to waiting-time penalties, which can amount to one day of pay for each day the payment is delayed, up to 30 days.

Unemployment Benefits

If you have been laid off, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits from the state of California. These benefits provide financial support to individuals who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. Applying for unemployment benefits can help alleviate financial stress during the job search process.


Employers are prohibited from conducting layoffs based on an employee's protected status, such as race, gender, age, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, disability, or veteran status. If you suspect discriminatory practices during a layoff, it is important to retain any evidence and consult with an employment attorney to determine if you have grounds for legal action.

COBRA Coverage

If you were receiving health insurance benefits through your employer, you may be eligible for continuation coverage under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA).

COBRA allows you to maintain your health insurance coverage for a period of time after your employment ends. Employers must provide notice and information about COBRA coverage to eligible employees. Failure to provide the required notice within the specified timeframe may result in penalties for the employer.

Remember, these are general guidelines. Your specific situation may involve additional rights and protections, or there may be certain exceptions that apply to your specific situation.

If you believe your legal rights as an employee in California were violated during a layoff, don't hesitate to contact our office for an evaluation of your case. Our Firm also regularly assists employees faced with lay-offs in reviewing and evaluating severance agreements and negotiating severance packages. Call us if you need us (424) 334-3194 or (661) 434-1144, or contact us on our website.

The information provided in this blog post does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. All content and information in this blog post are for general informational purposes only. Reading this blog post does not create or constitute an attorney-client relationship. An attorney-client relationship is only created by written agreement.

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