CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A U.S. district court judge approved a settlement that provides six-week severance packages to former employees of a Moncks Corner fire truck manufacturer Monday.
Employees reached the settlement in May, but it was subject to court approval.
The settlement agreement, approved by U.S. District Judge Richard M. Gergel, calls for American LaFrance and Patriarch Partners, which plaintiffs contend controlled American LaFrance, to provide lump sum payments totaling $385,000 to approximately 100 former workers at the Moncks Corner plant, according to a release from attorneys.
"This settlement enables the workers to close the books on a tumultuous chapter of their lives," James Ward, Jr., who represented the employees, said in a statement.
Attorneys say workers arrived at the plant in Jan. 17, 2014 to learn that the company would cease operations immediately and that they would receive no severance packages.
"Imagine arriving to your workplace to find that it had suddenly closed and you were not getting any help," Ward said. These employees were left in the lurch while they watched a private equity firm dismantle and liquidate the iconic fire truck brand's assets."
Olivia and James Schreiner filed a class action on behalf of the workers alleging the company's actions put it in violation of the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, which requires workers to be paid and receive benefits for 60 days when companies of a certain size reduce their workforce.
Prior to its abrupt closing, American LaFrance employed about 500 workers at locations in California, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina, about 100 of whom were based at the company's Moncks Corner facility, according to a release from Richardson, Patrick, Westbrook & Brickman, LLC, which represented the workers in Mount Pleasant. They say workers at the company's other locations did not quality for compensation because the employer's headcount at those facilities did not meet federal thresholds.