FMC Corp. previously operated the carrageenan plant located on Rockland's waterfront. The plant is now owned by DowDuPont Chemical. Credit: Stephen Betts

ROCKLAND, Maine ― FMC Corp. has agreed to pay a group of former employees $695,000 for wages they say the company failed to pay when its Rockland carrageenan plant was sold to DowDupont Chemical more than two years ago.

The settlement resolves the federal lawsuit filed by five longtime FMC employees last year and provides closure to an issue that has festered since the November 2017 sale of the plant. The terms of the settlement agreement, which was filed Friday, must still be approved by a judge.

The lawsuit claimed that FMC, a Pennsylvania-based chemical manufacturing company, violated a company policy and Maine law by failing to pay employees for accrued vacation time in 2017 when their employment with FMC was terminated.

When FMC sold the Rockland plant, its employees became DowDuPont employees.

FMC denied any wrongdoing, but settled the case because ”further litigation would be protracted, expensive and would divert management and employee time and attention,” according to the agreement.

The lawsuit was initially filed on behalf of five former FMC employees: Thomas Ames of Owls Head, Todd Conant of Rockport, Gregory Gould of Rockland, Rodney Mason of Owls Head and Karen Migliore of Union.

It is being treated as a class-action case and about 107 former FMC employees qualify to receive a share of the $695,000 settlement.

The plant itself has been a fixture on Rockland’s Tillson Avenue ― also known as Crockett Point ― since the 1930s, when Align Corp. began extracting carrageenan from red seaweed. Carrageenan is a thickening agent used in a range of products from ice cream to toothpaste.

FMC operated the plant from the 1970s until the 2017 sale, according to court documents.

The Rockland plant is again expected to change hands, as DuPont Nutrition and Bioscience― the division of DowDupont that operates the plant ― plans to merge with International Flavors and Fragrances, which the companies announced in December of last year.