Court Sides With Vanderbilt Over Hospital Layoffs

January 6, 2016

A federal appeals court on Tuesday ruled that Vanderbilt University's medical center did not violate federal law in July 2013 when it failed to give notice of layoffs to a group of roughly 200 workers. A federal court had sided with the employees in April, finding that when Vanderbilt laid off another 279 employees in fall 2013, the university triggered a clause in a federal labor law known as the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act that requires employers who lay off at least 500 workers within 90 days to provide them with 60 days' notice.

But Tuesday, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit said the lower court had misinterpreted the WARN Act. While Vanderbilt gave the 279 employees notice of their dismissal and barred them from their offices in September 2013, two months after the initial layoffs, the university paid them through November, falling outside the 90-day window, the panel noted. The plaintiffs had argued that Vanderbilt manipulated the timing of the layoffs to avoid complying with the notice requirement.

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