This US firm fires nearly 2,700 workers when they were ‘asleep’: Report


Amid reports of big firms firing its staff, Mississippi-based furniture company – United Furniture Industries (UFI) – in the United States just days before Thanksgiving in the United abruptly fired nearly 2,700 workers, according to multiple reports.

According to a report by The Guardian, the firm sent a message on 21 November to thousands of workers – many of whom were asleep – that they were were terminated effectively. Also the message read that they were no longer allowed to return to work.

“At the instruction 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 its employees, effective immediately,” the New York Post reviewed the message as saying.

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“Your layoff from the company is expected to be permanent and all benefits will be terminated immediately without provision of Cobra,” a follow-up email from the company read.

It referred to the federal law which gives employees – who lose jobs, under certain circumstances the option to keep their employer-sponsored health insurance.

Known for making budget-friendly sofas and recliners for Simmons Upholstery, the two-decades-old firm also instructed its drivers to immediately “return equipment, inventory and delivery documents”, regardless of “whether or not [they] have completed [their] delivery”, reported The Guardian on 26 November.

Apart from firing the staff, the firm did not give explanation for why they were terminated so abruptly. On 22 November, the UFI sent out an update regarding the retrieval of their belongings, which FreightWaves reviewed. “As soon as the property manager can provide a safe and orderly process for former employees to come and gather their belongings, they will do so … We are not certain of the timeframe for this but will communicate proactively,” the email said.

Responding back to the abrubt firing, numerous employees expressed shock and frustration. “It’s not fair to the laborers who seriously worked so hard to be blindsided like this. It’s not fair to the mom who just had a baby to wonder if she even has health insurance to cover it. It’s not fair to the cancer patient in the midst of chemo about how to pay for her treatment,” FreightWaves quoted one employee.

Former employee Toria Neal on Wednesday (24 November) filed a lawsuit against the firm and alleged that the later violated the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act by not providing at least 60 days notice of its shutdown.

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