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Book Chapter

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This chapter examines the effect of federal discrimination laws on permanent layoffs caused by plant closings and reductions in force (RIFs) and discusses the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN Act), Pub.L. No. 100-379, 102 Stat. 890 (1988), and the Illinois Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (Illinois WARN Act), 820 ILCS 65/1, et seq. This chapter examines cases in which RIFs have been challenged as violating an employee’s rights under federal age discrimination law, the legal standards applied by the courts in reviewing such challenges, and some particular problems that have arisen in the context of company cost-cutting decisions. Finally, this chapter outlines practical suggestions and considerations for RIFs, including the use of performance appraisals, waivers and releases, and early retirement incentives. This chapter does not consider issues that might arise in a unionized setting in which the strictures of a collective-bargaining agreement and the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), ch. 372, 49 Stat. 449 (1935), might limit or impede the employer’s decision-making discretion.


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