As the realities of the economic downturn set in, droves of companies are shedding employees: Sometimes offering them notice required under federal law, sometimes not.

The Sugar Law Center, a nonprofit organization based in Detroit that assists workers in WARN Act lawsuits, said its call volume has more than doubled since September, when the recent wave of layoffs and business closings started.

Concerned workers are increasingly phoning that agency to find out if their former employers followed the 20-year-old federal law, which requires many employers to notify employees 60 days before a massive layoff or plant closing.

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