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Layoffs At Hooters Creates Federal Class Action Lawsuit

April 22, 2020

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<p style="text-align: justify;">On March 25, 2020, Hooters laid off 679 employees due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on its business.  In a March 26, 2020 statement Hooters explained: “With our dining rooms closed and revenues more than halved, we and our franchisees have had no alternative but to dramatically reduce the size of our work force in response.”</p>
These layoffs resulted in a April 16, 2020, class action <em><a href="https://www.law360.com/articles/1264672/hooters-hit-with-warn-act-suit-over-coronavirus-layoffs-">lawsuit</a></em> filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, alleging that Hooters violated the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) by not giving employees any advance notice before executing layoffs last month due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
<p style="text-align: justify;">The WARN Act typically applies to workers at companies with at least 100 employees. The law aims to protect qualified workers by requiring their employers to provide at least 60 calendar days' advance written notice of a plant closing or mass layoff at a single site of employment, according to a description of the law on the U.S Department of Labor’s website.   However, the WARN Act “makes certain exceptions to the requirements when layoffs occur due to unforeseeable business circumstances, faltering companies, and natural disasters,” the description also says.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">On behalf of the class, two former employees allege that Hooters could have evaluated the impact of COVID-19 on its workers prior to the date that they were terminated in “mass layoffs” and that Hooters violated the federal WARN act by not giving employees any advance notice before executing layoffs last month due to the COVID-19 pandemic.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The suit seeks damages equal to 60 days’ compensation and benefits for a class covering all Hooters employees in Florida who were not given at least 60 days advance written notice before the mass layoffs.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The Complaint claims that “the fact that Congress recently made available to defendant and many other businesses nationwide millions of dollars in forgivable loans through the ‘Paycheck Protection Program,’ but defendant still opted to instead engage in a mass layoff — and do so without any advance written notice to its employees — only further underscores the severity of the WARN Act violations committed by Hooters.”</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Hooters has not yet responded to the Complaint, but in a March 26, 2020 statement, Hooters writes “With our dining rooms closed and revenues more than halved, we and our franchisees have had no alternative but to dramatically reduce the size of our work force in response.”</p>
Thanks to George Parpas for his contribution to this post.  Please email <a href="mailto:gcoats@wcmlaw.com">Georgia Coats</a> with any questions.

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