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Restaurant group says pandemic threatening employment of 400 St. Louis-area workers

Tampa Bay, Florida-based Bloomin' Brands, the parent company of Outback Steakhouse, Bonefish Grill and more, has filed a notice under the WARN Act
Credit: SLBJ

ST. LOUIS — A Florida restaurant group says Covid-19 is threatening the employment of its thousands of employees, including nearly 400 in the St. Louis area.

Tampa Bay, Florida-based Bloomin' Brands, the parent company of Outback Steakhouse, Bonefish Grill and more, has filed a notice under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act that it has "significantly reduced" the number of hours worked by the "vast majority" of its employees, including 381 in St. Louis, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The WARN Act calls for employers to notify states 60 days ahead of business closings or mass layoffs. However, Bloomin' Brands said in its filing that it has not terminated the employment of any restaurant worker and doesn't currently plan to, but the "sudden and unexpected reduction of hours could constitute a layoff under the WARN Act" if it continues.

Bloomin' Brands said "in an abundance of caution," it was filing notice, dated Monday, for a WARN event beginning March 15 "as business circumstances were not reasonably foreseeable at the time that notice would have been required." Affected workers are to be notified electronically or by mail this week, according to the filing. 

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