Employees at the candle factory in Mayfield, Kentucky, were in for a startling surprise when they learned that they were losing their jobs.
The candle factory first made headlines after the devastating tornado strike in early December. At the time, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said that “dozens” of workers might have passed away when a tornado demolished the building. After rescue crews worked around the clock to save trapped workers, only nine fatalities were confirmed. Twenty fatalities were reported in Graves County overall.
Although the death toll was not as high as first feared, the company faced scrutiny when employees started claiming that they were told that they would be fired if they left the building, even while tornado sirens were sounding.
A group of survivors is actually suing the company, alleging that the company demonstrated “flagrant indifference” to their rights and accusing the company of violating Kentucky occupational safety and health workplace standards by forcing employees to keep working despite the threat of an incoming tornado.
Although managers and the company have denied these claims, it seems that everyone is at risk of losing their jobs according to a new letter.
Mayfield Candle Factory To Lay Off Half Its Work Force
Mayfield Consumer Products, the parent company behind the candle factory, made the decision public after they sent a letter to the Kentucky state Office of Employer and Apprenticeship Services to let them know that they were closing the demolished candle factory. As a result, half of its workforce was going to be permanently laid off.
The letter, which was dated on January 10, said that although the current Mayfield plant will be permanently closed, they are moving to a new facility less than ten miles away in Hickory, Kentucky.
Although the company says that it will transfer approximately 250 current workers to the new location, they say that the current facility is not big enough to support all of the employees who used to work at the official Mayfield plant.
The letter adds that they gave their employees less than sixty days’ notice of the layoff due to the unexpected natural disaster that caused the layoffs.
In their statement, they said that, “Neither the disaster nor the resulting business circumstances were foreseeable at the time notice would typically have been required.”
It is reported that 501 employees had worked in the Mayfield factory. The company plans to have half of those workers return to the new factory in Hickory, which they plan to have up and running “as soon as practical.”
The Mayfield Consumer Products company was obligated to file the notice under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act. This is also known as the WARN Act.
According to federal law, companies that support one hundred or more employees are required to provide workers with at least sixty days’ notice before the business closed. However, in a filing with the state, Plant Manager Michael Staten wrote that “because the cessation is due to unpredictable natural disaster that occurred on December 10, 2021, and unforeseen business circumstances that followed that disaster,” they were within their rights to lay off the workers without adequate notice.
However, many users felt that the workers were being taken advantage of by the company and took to social media in order to express their opinion.
Twitter Expresses Outrage On Behalf Of Fired Workers
In case non-Kentucky followers want to keep up with what’s going on? The Mayfield candle factory’s owners are being EVEN MORE AWFUL. https://t.co/K43bQIKPxM
— Jacob Payne (@cattleprod) January 14, 2022
Many users took to social media in order to express outrage at the way the workers were being treated, both during the tornado clean-up operations and the aftermath.
“There’s no such thing as a ‘good corporate citizen’. Mayfield Candle Factory isn’t reopening, moving production to a new factory 6 miles north of Mayfield, and only taking half of the 500 workers,” one user tweeted.
“I hope the Candle Factory workers sue MCP for every cent they have. They did and are doing them dirty,” tweeted another.
“What a way to add insult to injury,” another commented.
“The workers deserved better,” another added.
“In case non-Kentucky followers want to keep up with what’s going on? The Mayfield candle factory’s owners are being EVEN MORE AWFUL,” another stated.