Monday, August 22, 2022

Lessons from Platform Beer’s mass layoff

According to Scene Magazine, late last week Platform Beer Co. notified between 25 and 30 of its local brewery employees that their employment was no longer needed. They were laid off. 

That facility brews, tests, cans, packages, and warehouses most of Platform's offerings. The impacted employees were offered severance packages in accordance with their age and tenure. 

When I hear "mass layoff," I immediately think of the WARN Act. WARN stands for Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification. It's the federal statute that requires 60 days' advance notice of mass layoff or plant closure (or 60 days' pay in lieu of the notice). But it does not apply to every mass layoff or plant closure, only those of a large enough employer that impacts a large enough number of employees.

The WARN Act covers an employer if, company-wide, it has:

  • 100 or more full-time employees (defined as working at least 20 hours per week) with six months of tenure of longer; or
  • 100 or more employees (including part-time employees) who work a total of 4,000 per week, excluding overtime.

The WARN Act covers any employee (full-time or part-time) who:
  • is terminated or laid off for more than six months; or 
  • suffers a reduction in regular work hours greater than 50 percent for at least six months. 

WARN Act notices (or pay in lieu) to the impacted employees of a covered employer are triggered by:

  1. Plant closings. The shutdown of a single employment site, facility, or operating unit, which results in a loss of at least 50 full-time employees, during a 30 day period; or
  2. Mass layoffs. A loss of at least 50 full-time employees during a 30-day period at a single employment site, affecting 33 percent or more of the employer's active employees, or a loss of at least 500 employees during any 30-day period.

Platform's layoff does not qualify under the Act for WARN notices, either because the brewery itself does not meet the 100-employee threshold, or because the mass layoff didn't impact enough of its employees, or both.

As for Platform, which sold (out) to Anheuser-Busch InBev in 2019, this is one more reminder and reason to drink independent local craft beer.