by Michael Fox
The Fifth Circuit affirms a lower court's ruling that Administaff, which it referred to as operating as an "off-site human resources department", was not liable for the WARN Act violation of its customer, a men's clothing production facility in New Jersey which shut down without giving 60 days notice. Administaff had no role in the decision to shut down, and in fact did not know of it until after the fact. Judge Edith Jones found that under the plain language of the statute, Administaff was not liable since it was not an employer who "order[ed] a plant closing." Administaff Companies, Inc. v. New York Joint Board (5th Cir. 7/1/03) [pdf]. The Court also supported the district court's grounds for summary judgment, that the DOL five point test for a joint employer was the appropriate test under WARN and under that test Administaff was not an employer.