Johnson City Earth Fare employee sues company

David Floyd • Feb 8, 2020 at 10:53 AM

A Johnson City Earth Fare employee is suing the grocery store chain and its parent company, EF Investment Holdings Inc., claiming that the company failed to give employees the 60 days notice required by federal law before closing its stores and laying them off.

Court documents say plaintiffs Kelsi Cornett and Amy Hile, two filers of the class action lawsuit, were employed at Earth Fare facilities in Johnson City and St. Johns, Florida, respectively.

According to a complaint filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the District of Delaware, the plaintiffs claim Earth Fare and EF Investment Holdings, which owns 100% of the equity in Earth Fare, violated the Workers Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act by failing to give Cornett and Hile and other similarly situated employees at least 60 days’ advance written notice of termination.

Consequently, the plaintiffs say they and others are entitled to recover wages and ERISA benefits for 60 days, which the plaintiffs claim have not been paid.

The Employment Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, according the U.S. Department of Labor, is a federal law that “sets minimum standards for most voluntarily established retirement and health plans in private industry to provide protection for individuals in these plans.”

Jennifer Mercer with Paladin, Earth Fare’s communication’s firm, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday afternoon.

One of the law firms representing the plaintiffs referred questions to Stuart Miller, an attorney with Lankenau & Miller in New York. Miller did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent by email.

Chris Cannon, a spokesman for the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, said the state department did not receive notification from Earth Fare about plans to close facilities in Tennessee.

Earth Fare, a chain of organic grocery stores and full-service supermarkets, announced Monday that it would closing all its stores, including its location at 1735 W. State of Franklin Road in Johnson City.

A news release from the company said employees had been notified of the impending closure of the Earth Fare’s stores and corporate offices in accordance with the WARN Act.

According to the Department of Labor, the WARN Act requires employers with 100 or more employees to provide at least 60 days written notice of a plant closing and a mass layoff affecting 50 or more workers at a single site.

Mercer said Monday that the company, which is based in Asheville, North Carolina, has about 3,000 employees in total. She didn’t have a specific number for the location in Johnson City, but noted that the company has five stores and about 250 employees in Tennessee.

Earth Fare is currently holding inventory liquidation sales at all of its stores, which Mercer said are expected to last through the end of the month.

Earth Fare Complaint by David Floyd on Scribd

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