Food and Commercial Workers v. Brown Group, Inc., 517 U.S. 544, 3 (1996)

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Opinion of the Court

60 days' notice before a plant closing or mass layoff. If an employer fails to give the notice, the employees may sue for backpay for each day of the violation, and, in the alternative, the union is ostensibly authorized to sue on their behalf. See North Star Steel Co. v. Thomas, 515 U. S. 29 (1995); Part II, infra.

Permitting a union to sue under the Act on behalf of its employee-members raises a question of standing. In Hunt v. Washington State Apple Advertising Comm'n, 432 U. S. 333 (1977), we described a three-prong test for an association's standing to sue based on injury to one of its members. The third element, at issue here, would bar such a suit when "the claim asserted [or] the relief requested requires the participation of individual members in the lawsuit." Id., at 343. Relying on Warth v. Seldin, 422 U. S. 490 (1975), Hunt held that "individual participation" is not normally necessary when an association seeks prospective or injunctive relief for its members, but indicated that such participation would be required in an action for damages to an association's members, thus suggesting that an association's action for damages running solely to its members would be barred for want of the association's standing to sue. See Hunt, supra, at 343.

The questions presented here are whether, in enacting the WARN Act, Congress intended to abrogate this otherwise applicable standing limitation so as to permit the union to sue for damages running to its workers, and, if it did, whether it had the constitutional authority to do so. We answer yes to each question.


On January 17, 1992, respondent Brown Shoe Company wrote to a representative of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, stating that Brown Shoe would shut down its Dixon, Missouri, plant and permanently lay off 277 employees beginning on March 20, 1992. App. 62-63. The complaint filed by petitioner United Food and

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