United Furniture Industries, Inc. (UFI) fired its entire workforce in the middle of the night right before the Thanksgiving holidays, according to multiple reports.
The giant U.S. furniture company, based out of Tupelo, Mississippi, sent two mass letters via text message and email between late Monday night and early Tuesday morning to its nearly 2,700 employees across its California, Mississippi, and North Carolina factories, notifying them of their terminations.
According to WXII 12, The first letter was sent out at 11:49 p.m. on Monday, which vaguely said,” We ask that all employees not report to their work locations tomorrow November 22, 2022.”
The second letter contained more details and was sent out at 12:42 a.m. on Tuesday, saying:
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, on November 21, 2022, with the exception of over-the-road drivers that are out on delivery. Your layoff from the Company is expected to be permanent and all benefits will be terminated immediately without provision of COBRA.
UFI requested that drivers not complete any additional deliveries and return any equipment, inventory, and delivery documents after they finished their current deliveries.
Although it is unknown the reasons for the mass layoffs, economic experts cite high gas prices, inflation, and the Ukraine war as likely factors, the Victoriaville Daily Press reported.
In June, the company fired its CEO, CFO, and executive vice president of sales before naming former Standard Furniture President Todd Evans as CEO. Around the same time, the company also restructured its sales department.
One month later, UFI fired over 270 workers at its Winston-Salem and High Point, North Carolina, plant and another 220 workers at its Amory, Mississippi, plant.
The mass layoffs have prompted one former employee, who has worked at UFI for eight years, to file a class-action lawsuit against the company, according to FreightWaves. She alleges that the company violated the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act and failed to provide at least 60 days’ notice of their terminations.
Another former employee expressed to FreightWaves their frustration over how the layoffs were handled.
“It is not fair to the laborers who seriously worked so hard to be blindsided like this,” the former employee said. “It is not fair to the mom who just had a baby to wonder if she even has health insurance to cover it. It is not fair to the cancer patient in the midst of chemo about how to pay for her treatments.”
UFI noted that employees were allowed to retrieve their belongings on Tuesday.
You can follow Ethan Letkeman on Twitter at @EthanLetkeman.