After 21 years of driving a truck for Jevic Transportation Inc., the end for Harry Whitworth was swift.

The Delanco company abruptly shut down May 19 and laid off Whitworth, 58, along with more than 1,000 other workers, ending their health insurance with only a few hours' notice. His thoughts went to his wife, Marsha, who would learn that afternoon that the cancer in her lymph nodes had grown. Her doctor held her as she sobbed, her chest heavy with pain.

Until recently, the Whitworths could have done little. The federal law requiring companies with at least 100 employees to notify workers 60 days before layoffs or closings has no enforcement or punishment power.

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