Legal Memorandum: Class Action Certification for Laid off Workers

Issue: What is necessary to certify that a group of laid off workers qualify for a class action in the Virgin Islands?

Area of Law: Employee Law, Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Laid off workers; Class action
Jurisdiction: Federal, Virgin Islands
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: 24 V.I.C. §§ 471-478; 29 U.S.C. §§ 2101-2109; 24 V.I.C. § 472; 24 V.I.C.§ 473; 29 U.S.C. § 2102(a); 29 U. S. C. § 2104(a)(1)
Date: 06/01/2008

This matter is reviewed pursuant to the Virgin Islands Plant Closing Act (24 V.I.C. §§ 471-478) and the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act (29 U.S.C. §§ 2101-2109).  In brief, the Virgin Islands statute requires employers to provide at least ninety days advance written notice prior to certain “plant closings” 24 V.I.C. § 472, and must pay each “affected employee a severance payment equal to one week’s pay for every year of service with the employer,” 24 V.I.C.§ 473.  The federal WARN Act is similar to the Virgin Island statute in that it requires employers to provide advance written notice to those employees who will be subject to a “mass layoff” sixty days before the layoff occurs.  29 U.S.C. § 2102(a).  WARN entitles affected employees, who are not provided with advance notification of an impending “mass layoff,” to damages from their former employer in an amount equal to back pay for each day of the violation, up to sixty days. Id.; Ciarlante v. Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., 143 F.3d 139, 142 (3d Cir. 1998). 

The WARN Act expressly grants standing to aggrieved employees to sue their employer not only on their own behalf, but also on behalf of other similarly situated aggrieved employees, in order to recover back pay and benefits under 29 U. S. C. § 2104(a)(1) for a class.  See Cashman v. Dolce Int’l/Hartford, Inc., 225 F.R.D. 73, 92 (D. Conn. 2004).

Under Rule 23(c)(4), the Court may craft its order to ensure that the conduct […]

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