Former Oxford call center workers sue after layoffs

By Matt Wickenheiser, BDN Staff
Posted July 25, 2012, at 6:16 p.m.

OXFORD, Maine — Former employees of an Oxford call center that closed in April have filed a class action lawsuit, claiming the company failed to give them proper advance notice of the layoffs under federal law.

Under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, or WARN Act, companies with more than 50 full-time employees are required to give workers at least 60 days notice of layoffs.

Charlotte Cloutier, Mary Beardsley and Aaron Edwards have sued CCS Global Holdings Inc. in U.S. District Court, claiming the company failed to provide that notice and now owes them and the other workers 60 days of pay.

One of the main questions in the case, however, concerns employees who began work at the call center as workers placed by Bonney Staffing and hired as CCS employees.

The Oxford call center shut down on April 11. CCS is based in Newton, Mass., and other branches in that state and New Hampshire were unaffected, according to media reports at the time.

According to the suit, 48 employees had been employed by CCS for at least six months in Oxford. The suit alleges that two other employees had started at CCS working through Bonney Staffing on Oct. 7, 2011, and subsequently were hired by CCS.

That’s key, said attorney Jeffrey Young, who filed the suit. Under the WARN Act, only employees who have been with a company for six months or more are considered “full time,” no matter how many hours they worked.

And only full-time workers are counted when looking at whether a company had 50 or more employees, and so had to give WARN Act notice.

The suit argues that those employees who were initially placed by Bonney were supervised by CCS employees, were subject to discipline by the company, and worked shifts as determined by CCS. Essentially, the suit suggests that though placed by Bonney and eventually hired by the call center, those employees’ entire time at the plant should be counted, making them full-time employees as defined by the WARN Act.

However, Young told the Bangor Daily News, he is still trying to nail down the exact number of employees, hire dates and other factors that will play into the suit. His clients have anecdotal information, he said, while the company holds records that will become revealed as the suit progresses.

“We’re trying to sort through some of these issues. We brought the case thinking there’s a valid point, we’ve got the burden of proof. The employer is making efforts to persuade us we don’t have the 50 [employees]. It’s still up in the air,” said Young, an attorney with McTeague Higbee in Topsham.

A call to the company’s attorney in Boston was not returned.

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/07/25/business/former-oxford-call-center-workers-sue/ printed on August 27, 2014