Yellow Corp. failed to give its 30,000 workers a required 60 days’ notice before mass layoffs last week, a class-action lawsuit by a laid-off employee alleges.
Dockworker Armando Rivera, a 25-year Yellow employee and International Brotherhood of Teamsters shop steward at Yellow’s Bloomington, California terminal, filed the lawsuit against the carrier and its subsidiaries in Delaware District Court Tuesday.
Rivera was among about 600 employees at the Bloomington facility — and thousands more workers elsewhere — who were laid off on or about July 28 without the required notice, the complaint alleges. The lawsuit seeks to create a legal class of plaintiffs and attorneys plan to notify laid-off Yellow employees affected by the layoffs.
The lawsuit seeks unpaid wages, salary, commissions, bonuses, accrued holiday pay, accrued vacation pay, pension and 401(k) contributions and other benefits the complaint says would have been covered for 60 days under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act.
For class-action plaintiffs in New Jersey, which has a stricter WARN law requiring 90 days’ notice, the lawsuit also seeks severance pay equivalent to one week of pay, plus an additional four weeks of mandatory severance pay.
A Yellow spokesperson declined to comment on the lawsuit Thursday.
But in a July 30 letter to the Teamsters, the company said the layoffs fell under “unforeseeable business circumstances,” “faltering company” and “liquidating fiduciary” exceptions to the WARN Act. The letter was provided by the carrier as its WARN notice, according to the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity.
The outcome of the lawsuit, then, could depend on a court’s interpretation of those exceptions — and whether Yellow’s looming bankruptcy qualifies.
The Teamsters and Yellow have a separate lawsuit awaiting settlement.
Yellow sued the union for $137 million in June, accusing leadership of “unjustifiably blocking” the network overhaul the company considered key to survival.
The company and union have pointed the finger at each other for the carrier’s demise, with Yellow blaming the union’s intransigence for the job losses, and the union arguing the carrier mismanaged its business.