The motion was filed by employee Chris Kingsbury on his own behalf and that of other employees who were greeted with a notice on the door’s of the company’s headquarters in Connecticut on in mid August that the company had ceased operation.
Company had been on hiring spree
The details of the case are murky. According to one source, Ultimate Nutrition had hired several executive level employees over the past year whose mission was to reinvigorate the brand. According to the source, a consultant with many contacts in the industry, a strategic plan had been formulated and was going forward.
According to the source, one of those executive level employees disseminated the news about the closure on Sunday, Aug. 18 and the notice went up on the doors of the company’s Farmington facility on Monday. One news report quoted one of the employees as saying that she had even been promoted recently.
Kingsbury’s class action, which was filed in a Connecticut Federal District Court, claims that Ultimate Nutrition abrupt cutoff of employee benefits violated the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, otherwise known as the WARN Act. This act, which was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1988, requires an employer to give 60 days notice to employees of an impending closure.
According to the US Department of Labor, the law covers most employees, and includes provisions for notifications to entities outside of the business.
“Employees entitled to notice under WARN include managers and supervisors, as well as hourly and salaried workers. WARN requires that notice also be given to employees' representatives, the local chief elected official, and the state dislocated worker unit,” according the agency’s website.
No notification to state
Susan Fracasso, a rapid response coordinator for the Connecticut Department of Labor, told NutraIngredients-USA that Ultimate Nutrition did not notify her agency of its closure. Fracasso said that as hers is a state agency and WARN is a federal law, the state had no standing in trying to enforce compliance on the part of employers.
“Do we get notice of every closure? No. But we do encourage employers to appear so that workers can prepare for what awaits them and know what services are available to them,” she said.
Kingsbury’s class action lists the date of closure as Aug. 17. In any case, the action alleges that Ultimate Nutrition did not give employees any notice of the impending action. The action seeks the payment of 60 days’ worth of wages, payments into the employees’ 401K plans, insurance coverage and other benefits.