The owner of Spectrum laid off 120 workers in a video-repair call center in DeLand in August, but didn’t notify city or state officials of the mass layoff until late November. Spectrum, or sometimes Charter Spectrum, is a trade name Charter Communications uses to market its consumer cable television, internet, telephone, and wireless services.
A Spectrum spokesman, however, said many of those laid-off workers were transferred to other positions within the company.
“Spectrum had notified the affected employees in June that the video call center would be closing in August,” Joe Durkin, Spectrum’s director of communications for Florida, wrote in an email to The Beacon. “We worked directly with employees to provide comprehensive severance benefits, including salary continuation, health insurance and outplacement services. More than 70 of those employees have since continued on with Spectrum in other jobs.”
He didn’t say exactly how many employees remained working out of the DeLand facility at 1655 State Road 472, but said it remains in operation.
“The DeLand office continues to fully staff field operations and assorted Spectrum groups that support operations,” he said in a follow-up email. “No other closings are planned but Spectrum continues to hire employees for a number of jobs that are looking to be filled. These jobs include customer service, customer service technicians and other roles to help serve the customers.”
But Durkin couldn’t explain why it took more than three months to notify state and local officials of the layoffs. A call to Charter Communications was not returned by deadline.
Under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, employers generally are required to provide notification to workers and their families and communities at least 60 calendar days in advance of most plant closings or mass layoffs, according to a fact sheet on the Florida Department of Employment Opportunity (DEO) website.
The WARN Act applies to employers — except any government agencies that provide public services — who have 100 or more employees and layoffs that involve 50 or more workers.
In Spectrum’s case, the workers were notified by the act’s deadline, but government officials were not. A spokeswoman for DEO said the agency “cannot control when businesses submit WARN notices,” and referred The Beacon to a federal publication for information about penalties.
According to “Employer’s Guide to Advance Notice of Closing and Layoffs” issued by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration:
“An employer who violates WARN is liable to each affected employee for an amount equal to back pay and benefits for the period of violation, up to 60 days. This liability may be reduced by any wages the employer pays over the notice period. . . .
“An employer who fails to provide notice as required to a unit of local government is subject to a civil penalty not to exceed $500 for each day of violation. The penalty may be avoided if the employer satisfies its liability to each affected employee within three weeks after the closing.”
The publication adds that WARN is enforced through federal courts, and that workers, their representatives, and units of local government may bring individual or class-action suits against employers believed to be in violation of the act.