United Furniture Industries ex-employee suing after “unlawful termination” of 2,700 workers

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United Furniture Industries Victorville distribution center
Photo credit: UFI

VICTORVILLE – A former United Furniture Industries (UFI) employee is suing the company – with Victorville distribution center, for violating “federal law by failing to give 60 days’ notice” of its shutdown to its almost 2,700 employees and truck drivers a few days just before Thanksgiving.

UFI notified employees, Monday at 11:49 p.m.via email, saying, “We ask that all employees not report to their work locations tomorrow November 22, 2022.”

Another email was sent to all United Furniture Industries employees at 12:42 a.m. Tuesday.

The immediate termination applies to all employees with the exception of “over-the-road drivers that are out on delivery,” the memo said. “Your layoff from the Company is expected to be permanent and all benefits will be terminated immediately without provision of COBRA.”

According to the memo, over-the-road drivers that are out on delivery will be paid for the balance of the week.

“Whether or not you have completed your delivery, please immediately return equipment, inventory, and delivery documents for those deliveries that have been completed to one of the following locations: Winston-Salem, NC, Verona, MS, or Victorville, CA location. To be clear, do not complete any additional deliveries,” stated the memo.

Toria Neal, a resident of Lee County, Mississippi, who worked for UFI for more than eight years, alleges in her proposed class-action complaint that the company violated the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act and did not provide at least 60 days’ written notice of a pending closure.

In the suit filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi, Neal claims she and potentially thousands of other UFI employees received an email and/or text message “that it was terminating all of its employees effective immediately” just minutes before midnight on Monday.

Langston & Lott, based in Booneville, Mississippi, filed the first class action against United Furniture Industries, Inc., alleging it violated the WARN Act when terminating all 2,700 of its employees.

“Under the WARN Act, the employees of United Furniture were entitled to either a 60-day notice or 60 days of severance pay — neither of those were provided,” Langston & Lott Attorney Jack Simpson told FreightWaves. “If appointed class counsel, we look forward to vigorously investigating the actions of United Furniture and seeking as much compensation the terminated employees are legally entitled to.”

In late July, the furniture manufacturer closed its plants in Winston-Salem and High Point, North Carolina, resulting in more than 270 workers losing their jobs.

Another 220 jobs were eliminated in late July at the company’s plant in Amory, Mississippi. “The new leadership had been working extremely hard to put new processes in place,” the former employee told FreightWaves. “There was too much effort being put in for anyone to really know they would close overnight.”

This is a developing story.

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