United Furniture Industries has laid off nearly its entire workforce in the state, as well as employees in North Carolina and California, and in a severe strike, halted health care benefits for employees, according to reports. After mass layoffs, the company’s driver was arrested for stealing furniture and a truck.
The company is now facing at least three federal lawsuits in the Northern District of Mississippi. Toria Neal, who has worked at the company since July 2014, filed a class action lawsuit this week alleging that United fired all employees except for “road motorists” shortly before midnight on November 21 in violation of federal law. It argues that United did not provide workers with 60 days’ written notice. (Two other employees, Francis El Omari and Willie Bowe, have filed lawsuits with the same allegations against the company.)
The sudden dismissals were a heavy blow to the longtime employees of United Furniture, which operates under the Lane Furniture brand.
Jimmy Herring, 24, told The Daily Beast he was promoted to grounds supervisor at the Lane plant in Trinity, North Carolina, a week or two before he was finished. Herring said that before he and his colleagues left, they were making chairs for Lowe’s retail stores.
But at 11:56 p.m. on Monday, the company texted him while he was asleep. He won’t see the digital pink slip until a day or two later.
Instead, his boss texted him the next morning, without giving much detail, and declared that they had no work. At first, Herring assumed that they would get the day off because of the upcoming vacation. Then call his co-workers.
“They said we were all terminated,” said Herring, who had been with the company for six years. “I thought it was a joke or something.”
He said his reaction was “total panic”.
“I didn’t know what to do, where to start,” said Hering, whose friend, Chi, is expecting a baby on December 8. Including the baby bath.
Herring is not sure if last Friday’s paycheck from Lynn will be his last.
“Some people don’t even have cell phones,” Herring added of his co-workers. “They had to go to the factory and find out they didn’t have a job anymore.”
Several employees and their relatives took to Facebook to resent the firings.
“Pathetic !! My 64 year old brother texted to say you no longer have a job! One North Carolina resident wrote. “I hope these people can put up with the same treatment my brother and the rest of this staff will have to face right now, especially as it is the beginning of the holidays!!!”
“United/Lane’s great work ethic,” wrote TJ Martin, an employee of the Tupelo, Mississippi plant who also spoke to local news station WLBT. “We appreciate the news of the termination while on vacation and at 11:30pm at night.”
Martin added, “I’ve spoken with several of my co-workers, and we’re all utterly frustrated with a company we’ve devoted our time and energy to for years and loved doing so in order to provide for our families.”
Posting trade furniture today Spread United’s message to employees.
“Based on the instructions of the Board of Directors of United Furniture Industries, Inc. and all subsidiaries (the “Company”), 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, effective immediately, on November 21 2022, except for road drivers who are out on delivery,” the dismissal notice stated. “Your dismissal from the Company is expected to be permanent and all benefits will be terminated immediately without a COBRA provision.”
“We regret that this difficult and unforeseen situation has made this necessary,” United continued, adding: “Thank you for your service and dedication.”
Last summer, the company fired its CEO, chief financial officer, and executive vice president of sales and laid off 300 employees. furniture today open. The company then appointed Todd Evans as its new CEO. “Our industry is experiencing a sharp decline in consumer demand,” Evans said in July. “Our inventory levels remain high and new orders from our customers remain slow.”
United Furniture Industries has not yet commented on the separations.