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Kentucky Factory Reportedly Had Employees Work During Tornado and Now is Closing

In mid-December 2021, Kentucky was hit by a catastrophic tornado. At the candle factory owned by Mayfield Consumer Products, the employees heard the warning sirens of the coming tornado and wanted to leave the building. At least 15 workers said supervisors told them they would likely be fired if they left before the end of their shift. While some employees left anyway, many stayed. With the entire facility leveled, nine employees died as a result of the tornado’s damage. Company officials denied that supervisors told employees they had to stay.

Workers filed a proposed class action shortly after the tornado asserting that the supervisors threatened to fire employees who left work as the storm approached. They claimed the company barred 100 employees from leaving even though the company had three hours' notice before the tornado arrived. The workers accused the company of failing to provide a hazard-free workplace in violation of state safety regulations; they seek monetary damages.

On January 10, 2022, Mayfield Consumer Products filed a notice under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retaining Notification Act that it plans to move the rest of the 250 workers to a new plant in another town. Mayfield does not yet have the new location up and running. While many employees may transfer to the new facility, the company will not offer all employees a transfer. The plant manager told reporters that those employees will be permanently laid off. A company spokesman later said the company is committed to rehiring everyone.