Philadelphia UArts Class Action Lawsuit: Faculty, Staff Sue Over Closure

Philadelphia University of the Arts

Class Action Lawsuit Filed as Faculty & Staff Demand Answers For University Closure, Mass Layoffs

The prestigious Philadelphia University of the Arts (UArts), with a history dating back to 1876, shocked its community by announcing its sudden closure on May 31, 2024. This decision triggered a wave of criticism, student protests, and a class action lawsuit filed by former faculty and staff.

Faculty and Staff Sue for Alleged WARN Act Violation

Nine former UArts employees, including professors and department directors, swiftly responded to the closure with a class action lawsuit against the university. They accuse UArts of violating the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN Act). This federal law mandates employers with at least 100 employees to provide written notice 60 days in advance of mass layoffs or closures.

The lawsuit argues that UArts' abrupt closure, with only a week's notice, left staff scrambling and financially vulnerable. 

Financial Troubles Cited as UArts Closure Reason

UArts claims declining enrollment and mounting costs forced their hand. But many aren't buying it. The suddenness of the closure and a lack of transparency from university leadership have fueled suspicion. The Pennsylvania Attorney General's office and state lawmakers are now investigating the situation, looking into potential asset transfers and the financial decisions that led to this drastic outcome.

The closure has left over 1,100 students in a state of uncertainty regarding their academic careers. While UArts has promised to help students find pathways to other Philadelphia institutions like Temple University and Moore College of Art and Design, the disruption to their studies remains a significant concern.

UArts Joins Growing List of Companies Accused of Abrupt Layoffs

The UArts closure isn't the only shocker to hit workers recently. Similar situations have unfolded at other companies, leaving employees questioning their job security. In May 2024, a former Red Lobster employee filed a class action lawsuit against the seafood restaurant chain. They allege Red Lobster laid off workers without the required 60-day WARN Act notice, leaving many scrambling after sudden restaurant closures.

Another mass layoff lawsuit was also filed against the battery factory Microvast. This complaint filed by a former employee accuses the company of violating WARN Act protections during layoffs in April 2024. Dozens of workers, including the plaintiff, claim they were terminated without cause and without the mandated 60-day warning. This sudden job loss caused significant hardship for many who had relocated specifically for the opportunity.

In the UArts mass layoffs class action lawsuit, the plaintiffs are seeking not only financial compensation for affected employees but also a measure of justice and accountability for the university's leadership. They are asking for compensation equivalent to 60 days' worth of wages, accrued vacation and holiday pay, and retirement benefits.

Case Details

  • Lawsuit: Schutts et al v. The University of the Arts
  • Case Number: 2:24-cv-02420
  • Court: U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania

Plaintiffs' Attorneys

  • Eric Lechtzin, Marc H. Edelson, Shoshana M. Savett (Edelson Lechtzin LLP)



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