A judge has ordered No. 2 Brazilian airline Gol Linhas Aereas to immediately reinstate 850 laid-off employees of its budget carrier Webjet, which ceased operating on Nov. 23.

Rio de Janeiro Judge Bruno de Paulo Vieira Manzini handed down a provisional ruling annulling the layoffs and ordering the company to rehire those workers.

Gol said in a Nov. 23 filing with the Sao Paulo Stock Exchange that it had canceled all Webjet flights as a first step in the process of closing down the company and eliminating the brand.

Webjet had nearly 1,500 employees before Gol acquired the airline for 70 million reais ($35 million) in October 2011 and assumed roughly 200 million reais ($100 million) of the carrier's debt.

The remaining Webjet employees were absorbed into Gol's staff.

The judge said in his ruling that "mass layoffs cannot be unilateral" and scheduled a Dec. 18 hearing for Gol to present a plan for reinstating the employees or for terminating their employment under an agreement with the union.

Gol did not immediately respond to the judge's decision. EFE