The Obama White House is pressuring federal contractors not to inform employees about coming layoffs until after the November elections in a clear violation of the WARN Act.
That federal law requires businesses with more than 100 employees to notify workers at least 60 days in advance of a mass layoff or plant closing or face heavy fines.
However, the Obama White House has told reluctant contractors that it will cover any costs incurred by the illegal failure to warn their employees of coming layoffs.
Particularly vulnerable to pressure of this kind are defense contractors, already in trouble because of the massive defense cuts the Obama Administration is shoving through.The last thing a defense contractor wants in this kind of environment is to alienate the White House.
Lockheed Martin has already caved in and said it will comply with the Obama White House's wishes.
Senator Lindsay Graham ( R-SC) referred to this tactic as "patently illegal":
“I will do everything in my power to make sure not one
taxpayer dollar is spent reimbursing companies for failure to comply with WARN
Act,” Graham told The Hill in a phone interview Monday. “That is so beyond the
pale — I think it’s patently illegal.”
House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) called
the administration’s guidance “politically motivated memos with dubious
grounding in the law.”
“It appears companies will bow to the threat implicit in
last week's OMB guidance; withhold notices today or the government might not
cover your court costs down the road. Let me be clear, neither the OMB guidance
nor the Lockheed decision will protect a single defense industry job if
sequestration occurs in January,” McKeon said in a statement.
It remains to be seen if any actual legal action ensues from the federal government pressuring companies to break the law in this fashion.