A Mississippi-based furniture company abruptly laid off nearly 2,7,000 workers in the United States days before Thanksgiving, according to multiple reports.
Just before midnight on November 21, thousands of workers – many of them sleeping – received a text message from United Furniture Industries (UFI) saying they had effectively been laid off and were no longer allowed to return to work.
“At the direction of the Board of Directors…we regret to inform you that due to unforeseen business circumstances, the Company has been forced to make the difficult decision to terminate the employment of all of its employees, with immediate effect,” the message, which The New York Post reviewed, said.
“Your dismissal from the company should be permanent and all benefits will terminate immediately without provision of Cobra,” reads a follow-up email from the company, referring to a federal law that gives employees who lose their jobs the ability to keep their employer-sponsored health insurance under certain circumstances.
The company also asked its drivers to “immediately return equipment, inventory and delivery documents”, whether or not they are [they] completed [their] delivery”.
The employees received no explanation as to why they were terminated so abruptly. On Tuesday, UFI sent an update regarding the recovery of their property, which FreightWaves reviewed.
“As soon as the property manager can provide a safe and orderly process for ex-employees to come and pick up their belongings, they will… We are unsure of the timeline for this, but we will communicate proactively,” the email reads. .
In response, many employees expressed shock and frustration at their abrupt dismissal.
One employee told FreightWaves, “It’s not fair for workers who have seriously worked so hard to be caught off guard like this. It’s not fair for the mother who just had a baby to wonder if she even has health insurance to cover it. It’s not fair to the cancer patient going through chemo to know how to pay for her treatments.
Another employee, TJ Martin, told WLBT: “It’s been a drastic shock to all of us…It’s put a damper on everyone’s morale, especially when you’re told to be ready to hit hard on Monday. Each of us is dedicated to the company. We consider ourselves as members of the family.
On Wednesday, former employee Toria Neal filed a lawsuit against the company, alleging it violated the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Act by failing to give at least 60 days notice of its closure.