Burgerville, the Vancouver, Wash.-based fast food chain with locations throughout Oregon and Washington, announced today it will be laying off 612 employees.
As first reported by The Columbian, the layoffs represent about 42 percent of the company's total staff.
In a press release, the restaurant paints the decision as a technical change based on guidelines from the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries.
A month ago, after closing dining rooms at all 41 locations and altering drive-thru hours, Burgerville placed 70 percent of its employees on temporary furlough. The company later learned from BOLI that if an employee receives no hours for 35 days, it must be treated as a full layoff.
Although the policy is prompted by Oregon's rule, it will apply to workers in Washington as well, according to The Columbian.
Employees will continue receiving health care benefits until May 31, the company said.
Update, April 25: In a statement to WW, Oregon Labor Commissioner Val Hoyle says Burgerville is misinterpreting the state's rules pertaining to furloughed workers. According to Hoyle, BOLI only sets guidelines for the timing in which laid-off employees must receive their final paychecks. "Employers decide the terms of layoffs and furloughs," the statement reads, "and can always be more generous than the law requires."
Here is Hoyle's full statement:
"Burgerville is confusing rules about the timing of final paychecks in the explanation of their business decision to lay off workers. The Bureau of Labor and Industries does not tell employers when or how to lay off workers. We simply govern the rules around how quickly workers must be paid their final wages when their employment ends.
Employers decide the terms of layoffs and furloughs and can always be more generous than the law requires. No Bureau of Labor and Industries rules or guidance prevent an employer from continuing furloughs or providing health insurance during this pandemic. Employers are responsible for those financial business decisions.
Again, we enforce the timing of final paychecks. If a worker is laid off for more than 35 days, they must receive their final paycheck in the same timeframe as if they were terminated – by the end of the next business day."