04.22.19

SCHUMER: GAPING LOOPHOLE IN FED LABOR LAW, WHICH ALLOWED “FRIENDLY’S” TO SKIRT STANDARD CORPORATE DUTY TO UPSTATE WORKERS—AND THEN FIRE THEM WITH NO NOTICE—MUST BE CLOSED; SENATOR ANNOUNCES NEW LEGISLATION TO CLOSE THIS LOOPHOLE & BETTER PROTECT WESTERN NEW YORK WORKERS

Schumer Announces That He Will Introduce New Legislation To Close Labor Law Loophole, Strengthen WARN Act Protections & Prevent Heartless Upstate Lay-Offs In The Future 

With 15 Friendly’s Across Upstate Abruptly Shuttered, & One More Set To Close In May, Hundreds Of Employees Are Left To Wonder If Lay-Offs Could Once Again Happen Overnight 

Schumer: Friendlier Labor Laws Will Order Up A Fairer Workplace For All    

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today detailed a gaping loophole in the WARN Act that permitted the Friendly’s Corporation to heartlessly shut down 15 Upstate locations overnight, including 4 in Western New York, and lay-off hundreds of employees without so much as a day’s notice. 

“The way by which Friendly’s left their workers across Upstate high-and-dry isn’t just something we should lament, it’s something we should address – by closing the Friendly’s loophole that allowed this company to fire scores of valuable employees without a moment’s notice. If these women and men worked in a factory, they would have received a WARN notice, but—even though they had the very same employer—because they happened to work at different locations the company was not required to give any notice, and that’s just wrong,” said Senator Schumer. “So, in the spirit of fairness, and so this doesn’t happen again, I am announcing plans to introduce new legislation to close this gaping loophole, because we shouldn’t have hundreds of hardworking employees show up for work in the morning only to be told to close up shop—for good. The truth is: this issue is not just about Friendly’s. It’s about fairness and amounts to an acknowledgment corporations need to adhere to and embrace much friendlier worker protections.”

Schumer explained that the hardworking service employees in Western New York and across Upstate New York deserved better from the Friendly’s Corporation, and argued that more must be done at the federal level to prevent similar mass layoffs from being sprung on workers overnight in the future. Therefore, Schumer announced his plans to introduce new legislation in the Senate that will strengthen the WARN Act by closing the “single employment site” loophole and consequently increase the circumstances under which employers must give two months’ notice to their employees of imminent and large-scale layoffs. Schumer said that this sort of mass layoff shouldn’t happen to workers without fair notice and urged his colleagues to pass his WARN Act-strengthening legislation immediately upon its introduction.

According to reports, over the weekend of April 6-7 the Friendly’s Corporation abruptly and permanently shuttered 23 Friendly’s restaurants across the Northeastern United States. Upstate New York was the hardest hit area with 14 closures. The following weekend, Friendly’s shut down a 15th Upstate location at the Eastview Mall in Victor. Schumer explained that in many cases, employees at the various Upstate New York locations were completely unaware of the planned closures and still showed up for work the next day, only to be blindsided by the fact that they were out of a job. In fact, over 375 full time and part time jobs were abruptly and callously eliminated across Upstate New York by the restaurant closures. Schumer said that the hardworking employees at the 15 Upstate Friendly’s locations deserved advance notice of their termination, at the bare minimum, and called the company’s unexpected actions extremely alarming. 

Locations of the 15 closed Upstate Friendly’s restaurants by region appear below:

Central New York:

  • Clay (Great Northern Mall, 4081 Route 31)
  • DeWitt (3275 Erie Boulevard E.)
  • Oswego (192-196 W. Bridge Street)
  • Syracuse (3701 James Street)

Rochester-Finger Lakes Region:

  • Gates (2 Spencerport Road)
  • Greece (3935 Dewey Avenue)
  • Greece (3081 West Ridge Road)
  • Victor (697 Eastview Mall)

Western New York:

  • Amherst (4350 Maple Road)
  • Blasdell (3540 McKinley Parkway)
  • Jamestown (10 S. Main Street)
  • Williamsville (6651 Transit Road)

Southern Tier:

  • Binghamton (1148 Front Street)
  • Endicott (301 E. Main Street)
  • Oneonta (377 Main Street)

In 1988 Congress passed the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act to protect the rights of workers and employees in the United States. The WARN Act mandates that employers give their employees 60 days advance notice of large-scale layoffs under certain circumstances. First, only organizations with 100 employees or more are required to comply with the WARN Act. Second, WARN Act notification is only necessary when 50 or more employees at a single employment site are set to be terminated, or if 50 or more employees are impacted by a factory closing.

Schumer said that since each of the Friendly’s locations didn’t cross the 50 employee threshold at any one employment site, the corporation was not mandated to give employees the two months’ advance notice. Schumer noted that by spreading out layoffs across multiple sites throughout the state, Friendly’s was able to skirt its WARN Act obligations and avoid notifying employees ahead of time. Schumer stated that while Friendly’s might not have violated the current WARN Act requirements, the company didn’t adhere to the spirit of the WARN Act. Schumer pointed to Friendly’s maneuvering as having exposed a major loophole in the WARN Act that must be closed immediately.

Therefore, Schumer announced that in short order, he would be introducing legislation in the Senate to close this loophole. Specifically, Schumer explained, his legislation would close the WARN act loophole by adjusting the applicability of the single site requirements that allowed Friendly’s to abruptly lay off hundreds of workers.

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