A group of laid off Tellico Services
Industries Inc. workers have filed a class action federal lawsuit
against the company, and Short Bark Industries, alleging the company
failed to give them proper notice of their termination as required
under the federal WARN Act.
In court papers filed in U.S. District
Court (Eastern District of Tennessee) in Knoxville, at least 18
former employees have filed on behalf of themselves and other laid
off employee seeking 60 days of back pay and benefits.
"As a result of defendants' failure
to pay wages, benefits and monies, plaintiffs and the class members
were damaged in an amount equal to the sum of the members' unpaid
wages, accrued holiday pay, accrued vacation pay, accrued sick leave
pay and benefits, which would have been paid for a period of 60 days
after notice of their respective terminations," the lawsuit states.
It was first reported in March the
company, which manufactures military gear in Tellico Plains, laid off
85 of its 200 employees due to a contract loss.
The lawsuit states that their former
employer was legally obligated to give them 60 days advance notice
before a mass layoff as required by the Worker Adjustment and
Retraining Act or WARN ACT.
State officials said they received no
WARN notice from Tellico Services, but also told The Advocate & Democrat it's not uncommon that employers wouldn't realize that they
are required to provide notice.
According to state officials, the
general requirement is to give the state 60 days notice of a
reduction in force or closure if the company has at least 50 workers
so that the Tennessee Department of Workforce & Development's
Rapid Response Team can help with job placement assistance and
According to the lawsuit, Tellico
Services workers perform jobs that are either sub-contracted from
Short Bark Industries or its subsidiary, SBI protection, or were used
by them for fulfillment of government contracts until March 16.
Short Bark officials could not
immediately be reached for comment on the lawsuit and no response from the defendants to the lawsuit had been
filed in federal court as of Friday afternoon.
This could be a tedious case as lawyers
could be trying to reconcile federal and state WARN regulations or
interpretations of them.
Staff writer Jessica Cross contributed
to this report.