The opinion of the court was delivered by: GRADY
Before the court are the parties' cross-motions for partial summary judgment on the issue of how to calculate damages under § 2104(1)(a) of the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (the "WARN Act"). See 29 U.S.C. § 2104(1)(a) (West Supp. 1998). Also before the court is defendant's subsequent motion for partial summary judgment on whether it should be held liable for any damages. On the cross-motions for summary judgment, we grant defendant's motion and deny plaintiff's. We also deny defendant's second motion for partial summary judgment.
Plaintiff, Local 1239, International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Shipbuilders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers ("Local 1239"), sued defendant Allsteel, Inc. ("Allsteel") under the WARN Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 2101-2109, alleging that defendant failed to comply with the notification provisions of the Act when it closed a manufacturing facility. On June 7, 1995, we denied defendant's motion for summary judgment, holding that defendant did not give sufficient notice of the plant closing to comply with the WARN Act. Local 1239 v. Allsteel, Inc., 1995 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7884, 1995 WL 348028, at *1-2 (N.D. Ill. June 7, 1995) (setting forth all of the undisputed facts of this case). On April 15, 1996, we denied defendant's subsequent motion for summary judgment which argued that Allsteel was entitled to the WARN Act's "good faith" defense under § 2104(a)(4). Local 1239 v. Allsteel, Inc., 1996 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4829, 1996 WL 182567 (N.D. Ill. April 15, 1996). Finally, on December 18, 1996, we held that defendant is liable under the WARN Act and granted plaintiff's motion for summary judgment. Local 1239 v. Allsteel, Inc., 955 F. Supp. 78 (N.D. Ill. 1996). The remaining issues relate to damages.
Summary judgment "shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). The only issue before the court is the meaning of a statutory phrase, a purely legal question properly resolved on a motion for summary judgment. See Cooper v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 106 F.3d 1338, 1340 (7th Cir. 1997) (stating that a question of statutory construction is a question of law).
I. Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment
The purpose of the WARN Act is to ensure that workers and their communities receive advance notice of the loss of employment so that the workers may begin the search for other employment or, if necessary, obtain training for another occupation. 20 C.F.R. § 639.1 (a) (1997); Alarcon v. Keller Indus., Inc., 27 F.3d 386, 388-89 (9th Cir. 1994). To achieve this purpose, the WARN Act requires employers to give written notice of an impending plant closing or mass layoff no less than 60 days before the action is taken. 29 U.S.C. § 2102(a) (West Supp. 1998). A regulation specifies the information employers must include in the notices. 20 C.F.R. § 639.7 (1997). If an employer violates the WARN Act, it must pay a civil penalty to local governmental bodies, 29 U.S.C. § 2104(a)(3), and damages to aggrieved employees. 29 U.S.C. § 2104(a)(1). The parties dispute the meaning of the following provision, which specifies the damages payable to aggrieved employees:
(1) Any employer who orders a plant closing or mass layoff in violation of section 2102 of this title shall be liable to each aggrieved employee who suffers an employment loss as a result of such closing or layoff --
(A) back pay for each day of the violation at a rate of compensation not less than the higher of -
(i) the average regular rate received by such employee during the last 3 years of the employee's employment; or
(ii) the final regular rate received by such employee . . .
Such liability shall be calculated for the period of the violation, up to a ...