Thursday, December 11, 2008

A sign of the times: old and new

An article in the Sacramento Bee titled Interactive database: See who is laying off workers gives readers access to a database to see a list of the employers that have laid off the most California workers during the last two years. This is through the California Employment Development Department -- Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification [aka "WARN"] Records.

Those familiar with patent law firm history in California might remember WARN. The matter came up in the rather rapid demise of the Brobeck law firm. From an August 2003 article in The Recorder via BrobeckInfo :

Former Brobeck employees filed suit against both Brobeck and Morgan, Lewis seeking 60 days' severance pay, claiming the firms violated the state Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification and the California labor code by failing to provide employees 60 days' notice that the firm was to close or a mass layoff was to occur -- or 60 days' severance pay in lieu of notice.

Oakland federal court Judge Claudia Wilken, who heard the arguments Friday in McCaffrey a/k/a Broke Beck v. Brobeck, 03-2082, is considering the two defendants' motions to dismiss the case or, alternatively, to grant summary judgment.

Brobeck said it was not required to give employees 60 days' notice since it met two exceptions to WARN: The mass layoff was caused by unforeseeable business circumstances and the firm was actively seeking capital at the time of its dissolution.

See also a 2004 post on IPBiz:

In a pre-IPBiz matter, LBE still remembers emailing with a Brobeck associate
on Jan. 30, 2003 (the day of the demise), with him defending his erroneous Festo chart. Then he stopped
writing, as the office shut down.


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