MEDIA RELEASE: Former Townsends poultry workers awarded in settlement for unpaid vacation time

The bankrupt company will pay 859 employees from Pittsboro, Siler City a total of $157,000

RALEIGH (June 13, 2012) – Former workers of Townsends, Inc., a Delaware-based poultry processing company, have been awarded in a settlement against the bankrupt company, who will pay 859 North Carolina employees for unpaid vacation time.

The settlement awards $157,000 to the Pittsboro and Siler City workers, who were represented in a class action lawsuit by the North Carolina Justice Center and Delaware law firm Margolis Edelstein.

Townsends, Inc. filed for bankruptcy on December 19, 2010 after more than 100 years in business, and closed its operations on February 25, 2011 when the company was purchased by the Ukranian-based company Omtron for $24.9 million. Townsends fired 1,200 workers without paying them the vacation pay owed to them, and forcing them to reapply for their jobs in order for Omtron to re-hire them. Townsends workers staged a walkout, and soon after contacted the NC Justice Center for legal assistance.

Former Townsends employees Simiona Morales, Santiago Vivas-Madrigal, and Leonarda Vivas de Hilario filed a class action lawsuit in Delaware bankruptcy court on behalf of themselves and Townsends employees from the Pittsboro and Siler City, North Carolina plants to recoup unpaid vacation time owed to them under Townsends’ company policy. The $157,000 settlement will be distributed among the workers based on how much vacation time they were owed by the company.

Although some workers were offered employment with Omtron, that company announced five months later that they would close all of Omtron’s facilities in North Carolina by October 2011, leaving any remaining former Townsends workers without jobs as well.

”Some of these workers had been at the plants for more than 20 years,” said Kate Woomer-Deters, an attorney with the NC Justice Center’s Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project. “This settlement doesn’t come close to replacing these jobs, but because of the courageous acts of workers who dared to speak up, we were able to get back some of what was owed them. These workers sent a message that wage theft should not be tolerated.”

Any workers who worked for the Siler City or Pittsboro Townsends plants and lost their jobs between January 5 and February 25, 2011, were not paid owed vacation pay, and have not received a settlement payment should contact Jessica Rocha at the NC Justice Center, 866.446.8398.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kate Woomer-Deters, Attorney, Immigrants & Refugees Rights Project, NC Justice Center, kate@ncjustice.org, 919.861.2072; Jeff Shaw, Director of Communications, NC Justice Center, jeff@ncjustice.org, 503.551.3615.

 

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