Fomer Cypress Gardens employees suing park for back pay and benefits

Posted Wednesday, December 3, 2008 10:15 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Former employees of Cypress Gardens are suing for back pay and benefits, claiming they were not given required notice of the amusement park closing its ride and animal attractions. The federal class action lawsuit filed Tuesday claims employees should have been given at least 60 days' notice before the closings, but were given only eight days' notice.

Read more from The Ledger.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2008 10:16 AM

In what universe can you sue for this? Is Florida not an employment-at-will state?

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Wednesday, December 3, 2008 11:15 AM

The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act requires that employers give notice if there is to be a mass layoff which will result in an employment loss at the employment site during any 30-day period for 500 or more employees, or for 50-499 employees if they make up at least 33% of the employer's active workforce.

Of course, there are exceptions to this law, but that may be for a Court to decide.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2008 12:28 PM

Is that a Florida law?

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Wednesday, December 3, 2008 12:57 PM

No, it's a Federal Labor Law.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2008 1:41 PM

According to this, they absolutely fall under the exemptions. There's no case if they're using this law as the example. The exemptions are so ridiculously broad.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2008 1:48 PM

I have to admit knowing very little about labor law, but thought it was pretty much reprehensible for the park to notify employees on a Sunday that the following Sunday would be the last day for the park. The $25 Wal-Mart gift cards as "your severance package" didn't exactly offset the injustice, IMO - but that has little or nothing to do with the law and how it will be applied.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2008 3:45 PM

The point is that businesses often have to make radical change or adapt quickly. The notion that you can put some arbitrary warning period on that is completely asinine. I'm not taking the business' side on this, I'm just realistic. I've been laid-off twice this year. I know how it goes.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2008 4:04 PM

Jeff, I assume you are reffering to "unforeseeable business circumstances". If so, the Park would have to show that some event took place within those last 60 days that made the notice impossible to give. Given the fact that they enlisted a ride broker to appraise all the rides weeks before the official announcement, it stands to reason that this layoff was indeed forseeable.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2008 6:00 PM

Please. Define "unforeseeable." It can't be done. The burden of proof is not going to be on the owners, and the owners are not obligated to give their employees a play-by-play of the health of the company.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2008 7:15 PM

Actually, as in many labor law cases, the burden of proof is placed upon the employer. "If an employer provides less than 60 days advance notice of a closing or layoff and relies on one of these three exceptions, the employer bears the burden of proof that the conditions for the exception have been met."

I agree with you that "unforeseeable" is arbitrary, but if the case is heard, that is what Cyprus Gardens will have to prove.

Last edited by Fun, Wednesday, December 3, 2008 7:19 PM
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Thursday, December 4, 2008 12:08 AM

There's no standard. You can't prove something that has no standard. What legal precedent is there for describing it? I can't imagine there's a lot of case law that can cover some all-encompassing description. Things go south quickly, especially in this economy. Been there. A lot.

These folks should spend this time looking for another job instead of wasting the courts' time with this. Even if they could win a judgment in their favor, all they do is cause the company more harm, maybe put them out of business, then everyone still working there is screwed.

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Thursday, December 4, 2008 9:13 AM

Of course the real issue seems to be the stupid law in the first place, passed by our wonderful govt. We should complain to the people who supported it. A bunch of lawyers passing vague laws=full employment for lawyers.

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Thursday, December 4, 2008 10:49 AM

Congress passes laws, not lawyers. The law was likely lobbied for by the big unions. If you're going to be jaded, at least be jaded for the right reasons.

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Thursday, December 4, 2008 11:13 AM

It's not necessarily a good thing to give advanced warning. People might not show up, or worse, things get vadalized or stolen.

Seriously though, there must be some jobs available to the northeast. I'd be spending time there instead of with a lawyer.

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Thursday, December 4, 2008 1:16 PM

I'm not sure what this would accomplish. We're not talking about Cedar Fair or Six Flags shutting down one park while keeping the others open. The only result I see if the ex-employees win is that Cypress declares bankruptcy, closes completely, even more people are out of work AND those doing the suing get nothing.

This is the same kind of crap I've seen the UAW pulling for years. Doing everything to get "theirs" with no consideration for the consequences.

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Thursday, December 4, 2008 2:41 PM

With all due respect to those who are UAW members here, it's some of that same crap that's put the Big Three in a bind.

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Friday, December 5, 2008 11:13 AM

Jeff said:
Congress passes laws, not lawyers. The law was likely lobbied for by the big unions. If you're going to be jaded, at least be jaded for the right reasons.

I'm well aware of how laws pass in this country. Are you aware of how many politicians are lawyers? That was my point.

Jaded for the right reasons? I was trying to be nice and not point out that this law came from YOUR side of the political isle! Sorry for being too subtle.

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Friday, December 5, 2008 4:43 PM

I have an aisle? What the hell are you talking about?

Are you really suggesting that Congresscritters pass laws that are vague to make work for them later as civilian lawyers? That makes no sense.

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Friday, December 5, 2008 7:14 PM

No, he said isle. You know, Gilligan's Isle, Jeff's Isle.

Oh, wait, you only get one side of the isle. I hope it's the side without the quicksand, volcano, and bloodthirsty headhunters. ;)

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