WBUR

State AGs Remind Market Basket Of Laws Protecting Fired Workers

BOSTON — The Massachusetts and New Hampshire attorneys general warned Market Basket Thursday that they will be watching to ensure the company fairly compensates any terminated employees.

In a letter addressed to the supermarket chain’s new chief executives, Jim Gooch and Felicia Thornton, and Keith Cowan, the chair of the board of directors, Martha Coakley and Joseph Foster reminded the company that its decisions have “broad implications.”

The letter comes in response to a statement made by Gooch and Thornton Wednesday, which urged employees who’ve stayed off the job to protest the ouster of former CEO Arthur T. Demoulas to return to work by Monday, warning that they would begin seeking replacements for those who chose not to return.

“Your decisions of course directly impact thousands of employees and thousands of customers in Massachusetts and New Hampshire,” the letter read. “Those decisions also have serious implications for the many small businesses that supply your stores or otherwise rely on a close business relationship with Market Basket for their livelihood. Please keep all of these impacted persons in mind as you chart the course for Market Basket.”

Coakley and Foster also said their offices have seen an uptick in calls from Market Basket employees who are concerned about their rights. The letter goes on to remind the company of its obligations to compensate fired employees in a timely manner, and for any earned sick and vacation time.

In response, Thornton and Gooch released a statement saying they “sincerely hope” they do not have to fire any workers.

“We want our associates back. We are focused solely on getting Market Basket stores back up and running for our customers and, importantly, for the many local vendors that rely on Market Basket to make their own businesses successful for the sake of their employees,” the statement said. “We respect the Attorneys General position, and would of course follow all applicable laws.”

Employees calling for Arthur T.’s return began protesting two weeks ago, leaving some store shelves empty, and urging customers to shop elsewhere.

Arthur T. was ousted in June by the supermarket’s board of directors, which is controlled by his cousin, Arthur S. Demoulas. The two have a long-running feud.

The supermarket chain’s board says it’s considering several offer from potential buyers, including one from Arthur T.

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  • taxman10m

    Sounds like it should be a Coakley press release rather than something from the AG’s office. “Your decisions of course directly impact thousands of employees and thousands of customers in Massachusetts and New Hampshire,” the letter read. “Those decisions also have serious implications for the many small businesses that supply your stores or otherwise rely on a close business relationship with Market Basket for their livelihood. Please keep all of these impacted persons in mind as you chart the course for Market Basket.”

  • X-Ray

    It appears Coakley et al are putting the heavy of their Sates on what is really not yet their concern.

    • Jamie St Pierre

      It is their concern when MB isn’t paying their terminated employees final pay and/or vacation time accrual within 24 hours of termination. Esp when they may have to do it to 25,000 max employees.

      • X-Ray

        If that’s true, the AG should bring charges. I haven’t heard of any being brought. Is Coakley serious or not?

  • Argle_Bargle

    Awesome sauce. This is why oversight and regulation are incredibly important – so greedheads have to think twice.

    Cue the right wing froth in 3…2…1

  • Thinkfreeer

    Yep, Coakley is running for office.

    • Gino

      Where is Elizabeth Warren? She is against corporate greed? Not a peep out
      of her. Oh that’s right, she may make a run for the presidency. She is such a
      hypocrite

      • waytogo15

        Prof. Robert Reich wrote a blog on M & B crisis……Rep. Nicki Tsangus (D-Lowell) also wrote a letter to the M & B Management

  • irmaagregg

    uptil I saw the draft 4 $5514 , I be certain
    that…my… cousin woz like actualey bringing home money parttime online. .
    there dads buddy has done this for only fourteen months and just cleared the
    dept on there appartment and purchased a great Fiat Multipla . read the article
    J­a­m­2­0­.­C­O­M­

  • Samuel Sitar

    The MA and NH Attorneys General must reinstall Arthur T. Demoulas. that’s the best way to fix this.

    • DAYDREAM

      Neither of them is empowered to do so. Protecting the rights of it’s workers may come under the auspices of the state’s governments but not the day to day operation of a private business.

    • Janey04090

      What about the Maine AG? Who is speaking for the Maine employees of MB??

    • trueseeker

      That is beyond any AGs power. Businesses can make stupid choices, but an AG can’t change them. And thankfully so. I wouldn’t want a gov with THAT much power.

  • disqus_9NWVLrfJ9P

    If you don’t show up for work when you are told to you should be fired – you are not “entitled” to anything. Work and get paid…. expecting something for nothing is not a good trait…

    • Sean L

      Managers, asst. managers, and associates are showing up for work and protesting on off hours or down time. Yet there jobs are being listed. People have the right to be treated with dignity and respect, concepts far beyond the understanding of these new CEO’s and the limitless greed of the board directors. 4 billion dollars in profit isn’t good enough.

      • disqus_9NWVLrfJ9P

        Showing up for work and working are two different things. Telling people to go shop somewhere else is not good, refusing trucks with deliveries after placing orders – the funny thing the employees are pawns being utilized in a game where someone will win, someone will lose and the ones that do the work will be sacrificed no matter which side they are on. There is no win here.

    • waytogo15

      missing the point….protesting against a possible bad management is a worker’s right. The store runs well as much because of the management as much as the employees. If unfair board room games effect workers adversely, they have every right to protest for their own welfare. Management should negotiate & promise that the worker’s welfare is not compromised & not threaten with firing……

    • Brian

      I think the same can be said about the Board, you know the people who don’t actually work they just count money. Don’t take an action that causes all of your employees to walk off the job if you can’t continue to operate your business or pay their severance. They would have fired everyone if they had the cash on hand and ability to run the business.

  • MikeLaBonte

    The Market Basket execs need to identify employees who they feel have not returned to work. One employee wrote: “How do they plan on filling positions that are already filled? The employees have been working, protesting on their own time. What is there
    in this that they do not understand? Employees are working, customeres are not buying. Very simple,”

    http://www.whav.net/cms/?p=2285

  • Janey04090

    What did the court have to do with Artie T being voted out and fired by the Board? One director switched sides from Artie T to Artie S, that’s what caused this fiasco, now where did the court come into play?

    • Jean Shirk

      Read up on the whole story behind market Basket. The court has been a big player.

  • Argle_Bargle

    Yes, and seat belts, fire extinguishers, and life preservers are a liberal-UN-commie conspiracy to wreck Ayn Rand’s legacy and steal all our golfs (hat tip to Charlie Pierce at Esquire).

    You say you’re late, but you’re really on time; crazy is always in season on the right.

    Cue sane people breaking into riotous laughter in 3…2…1

  • thedeadtext

    If you decide to fire someone for not appearing, you have to have all due wages in a certain period of time.

    They seem to be failing on that as they are firing people when they don’t even have most of their HR department.

  • Jamie St Pierre

    It’s all ages. Are you calling from age 18-60 the same generation? Because that is the age range of the protesters.

  • trueseeker

    The current BOD of MB needs to come to terms with the the fact that they miscalculated on this and that pushing forward with their vision will in fact kill MB. If they have any sense of moral goodness, they will pull back and allow a solution that will salvage MB for the many 1000′s of people who’s livelihoods (workers, vendors, shoppers, etc) are tied to the future success of this amazing company.

  • trueseeker

    Show me a system of economics that has zero controls, and I’ll show you the same that is entirely corrupt. Good intentions and even pious beliefs regularly bend to the pull of money. If you believe otherwise you’re beyond reasoning with.

  • jomar456

    Hey guys the state law here in Mass states as follow: Under Massachusetts law, employers are not required to pay terminated workers for unused sick or personal days. However, in most cases any earned but unused vacation time is considered wages, and must be paid to the employee upon termination. The Attorney General’s website says, “Discharged (fired or laid off) employees must be paid all wages due and owing on the day of termination. The term “wages” includes all vacation time earned under the employer’s written or oral policy.”

    The law requires the employer to pay the worker for any vested vacation time that the worker has. It is unusual for the employee to have 12 or more days of vacation time vested after only 60 days of employment.

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