On September 29, 2022, California passed Assembly Bill (AB) 1601, which requires an employer of customer service employees in a call center to comply with the California Worker Adjustment and Retraining Act (Cal/WARN) requirements prior to a mass layoff, relocation, or termination of employees. Under this bill, a call center employer is prohibited from ordering a relocation of its call center, or one or more of its facilities or operating units within a call center, unless the employer complies with the notice requirements.

Under the new law, “call centers” are defined as a facility or other operation where workers, as their primary function, receive telephone calls or other electronic communication for the purpose of providing customer service or other related functions. Also under the new law, “relocation of a call center” includes when the employer intends to move its call center, or one or more facilities or operating units within a call center to a foreign country.

The new law applies to employers who are defined as covered establishments under Cal/WARN, which includes an industrial or commercial facility that employs or has employed within the preceding 12 months, 75 or more persons, and operate a call center.

AB 1601 also requires the Employment Development Department (EDD) to compile and publish a list of employers that provide notice of relocation.

Employers on the list or should be on the list but failed to provide notice would be ineligible to be awarded or to have renewed state grants or state-guaranteed loans for five years after the date the list is published. Such employers would also be ineligible to claim tax credits for five taxable years as of the date the list is published unless ineligibility is waived by the commissioner for specified reasons.

The law is effective January 1, 2023.

If you have questions about the application of AB 1601 or related issues, please contact the Jackson Lewis attorney with whom you regularly work.