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ICYMI

According to this leaked email, big layoffs may be coming to Chesapeake Energy

3:00 AM EDT on September 17, 2013

chesapeake

If you work for Chesapeake Energy, it may be time to polish up your LinkedIn profile.

We have obtained through the Ogle Mole Network a Chesapeake email that suggests the company could layoff 500 employees or more from its OKC campus within the next 90 days.

The email was sent to the personal email accounts of several laid off employees in order to comply with the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (“WARN”). According to the Department of Labor, WARN "protects employees, their families, and communities by requiring most employers with 100 or more employees to provide 60-day advance notification of plant closings and mass layoffs of employees."

Here's the snippet where Chesapeake talks layoff numbers:

The layoff will affect certain employees working at the Company’s Oklahoma City Campus facility located at 6100 N. Western Avenue in Oklahoma City, OK. The layoff (when combined with subsequent layoffs which may occur within the next 90 days at the referenced facility) may affect at least 50 employees and one-third of the employees at the referenced facility or 500 employees at the referenced facility.

Well, that may be the most confusing paragraph ever written. Chesapeake had about 4,000 employees at its OKC campus in 2012, so I think that means they are laying off at least 500 employees. Is that right? I only got a 150 on the LSAT.

In addition to the WARN notice, the company acts like Big Brother and threatens to forfeit the severance pay and/or benefits of any employee caught sharing the email "with uninterested third parties." And no, I'm not making that up.

Here's the full email. We edited out some minor details in order to protect the recipient's identity:

Based on events that may or may not occur in the next ninety (90) days, your separation may become subject to the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (“WARN”) Act. As a courtesy, the Company is providing you the enclosed “Notice to Employees” which would satisfy the notification requirements if your separation becomes covered by WARN.

For you, this will mean that your official termination date will now be sixty (60) days after your receipt of this letter and the attached Notice. We are sending this on .... to the personal e-mail address you provided the Company, making your termination date .....

You have not been required to perform any duties after (termination date). However, you will continue to receive your base pay and benefits, including PTO accrual, through your termination date. You will receive your on-going pay on the Company’s regular payroll schedule. Any accrued but unused PTO will be paid to you on the next regular payday following your termination date. After your termination date, you will also receive information about your rights to elect continuation coverage under the group health plan pursuant to COBRA. If you accept the Company’s offer under the Severance Program, on the next regular payroll date following your termination date, you will also receive the balance of your severance benefits in lump sum pursuant to the terms of the Severance Program. That lump sum severance payment and COBRA Supplement under the Severance Program will be reduced by the WARN Pay and Benefits you have already received...

The Severance Packet that you received on September 2013 indicated that you had forty-five days to sign and return the necessary documents in order to receive Severance Benefits under the Severance Program. Because of the extension of your employment during this WARN notice period, your signed Severance Benefit Agreement, Waiver of Employment Agreement Payments and Benefits (if applicable) and General Release should now be signed, returned and received by the Company no later than three (3) business days after your termination date. If you have already signed and returned your documents, those documents will not be accepted by the Company. A new set for you to sign and return will be sent to you in a separate mailing. These documents must be signed, returned and received by the Company by the third (3rd) business day following your termination date; however, you cannot sign and return the documents earlier than your termination date.

After you return your signed documents, you will have seven (7) days to rescind your decision. If you exercise the right to rescind the Severance Benefit Agreement, Waiver of Employment Agreement Payments and Benefits, if applicable, and General Release, however, you will not receive any severance payment and/or benefits under the Severance Program.

And now this is when things get scary. Check out the stern warning that Chesapeake gives to any ex-employees who share the contents of the email:

Your employment situation is private, and we expect that you will exercise extreme discretion in your communications with others, particularly uninterested third parties. Do not copy or forward any portion of this letter, the Notice or any other related documents unless you receive express permission from the undersigned to do so. If you engage in unauthorized communication regarding the terms of this letter, you will forfeit your eligibility for any severance pay and/or benefits.

If you have any questions, please contact the undersigned at 405-XXX-XXXX. Alternatively, questions may be emailed to HRQandA@chk.com or faxed to 405-XXX-XXXX.

Uhm, when did Chesapeake hire Ryan Tate to run their HR department? You may be able to rattle and frighten natural gas leaseholders, politicians and the local media, but please don't try to silence the Ogle Mole Network. It's a lost cause.

Here's the WARN "Notice to Employees" that was attached to the email. It's the part with the confusing text regarding layoff numbers:

NOTICE TO EMPLOYEES

TO: CERTAIN EMPLOYEES OF CHESAPEAKE OPERATING, INC., A WHOLLY-OWNED SUBSIDIARY OF CHESAPEAKE ENERGY CORPORATION, AT THE OKLAHOMA CITY CAMPUS FACILITY IN OKLAHOMA CITY, OK

In compliance with the terms of the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, 29 U.S.C. § 2101, et seq. (“WARN”), if applicable, or, alternatively, as a courtesy to affected employees, Chesapeake Operating, Inc. (the “Company”), hereby gives notice of a layoff at the above-referenced facility and the consequent expected permanent loss of your employment, as follows:

1. The layoff will affect certain employees working at the Company’s Oklahoma City Campus facility located at 6100 N. Western Avenue in Oklahoma City, OK. The layoff (when combined with subsequent layoffs which may occur within the next 90 days at the referenced facility) may affect at least 50 employees and one-third of the employees at the referenced facility or 500 employees at the referenced facility.

2. The layoff covered by this Notice began on .... and is anticipated to continue through 60 to 90 days following the date of this Notice. The layoff is expected to be permanent.

3. Your obligation to perform duties ended as of .... The expected effective date of your termination of employment is sixty (60) days after the date you received this Notice, November 2013. The Company will continue your pay and benefits through your termination date.

Here are a few thoughts / notes:

• This sucks. It sucks for the local economy, job market and most importantly, the people who are losing their jobs.

• Chesapeake laid-off their chaplains and a beekeeper last week. That's kind of cruel. If a Chesapeake employee needed spiritually counseling and/or honey, this would probably be the week.

• A big thank you goes out to the Ogle Mole who sent this email, and in the process, jeopardized their severance package. We'll remember you like that sad lady who remembered those bothan spies that died in Star Wars. If you're a Chesapeake employee and have anything you'd like to anonymously share regarding layoffs, send us an email. We'd love to hear from you.

• Our thoughts go out to anyone who is being impacted by all this. I was laid off in a RIF a few years ago and know what's like. For what it's worth, I'm now a full-time blogger and bar trivia host. Sorry if that makes things worse.

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