No, unless there is a contract between the employer and the employee or the employee’s union that requires that severance be paid in the event of a layoff. Employees are “at will” in California. That means that either the employer or the employee can terminate the employment relationship at any time, including by lay-offs.
Upon termination or lay-off, an employee is only entitled to his/her pay through the termination, the monetary value of any accrued but unused vacation time and any other compensation or benefits that have been earned and have vested.
Of course, employees are entitled to exercise their rights under COBRA and CalCOBRA to continue to receive medical insurance and retain any earned and vested pension benefits after termination or layoff. But there is no right to severance pay as such after being laid-off.
If you think you have been laid-off illegally, contact Strauss Law Group for a free consultation. Know your rights!