A catastrophic fire on June 21 forced a South Philadelphia oil refinery to close its doors, forcing 1,100 of their employees out of work. Philadelphia Energy Solutions, the largest oil refinery on the east coast, informed their employees on June 26 that the destruction from the fire was too costly and forced a shut down in early July, giving all employees roughly five days advanced notice and without severance pay. On June 28, two former employees brought suit on Philadelphia Energy Solutions for failing to comply with federal and state laws, which stated that employers must give a larger amount of notice if imposing mass layoffs.
The Workers Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) is a collection of state and federal laws that require large scale employers, ones who employ at least 100 workers, to give their employees at least 60 days of advanced notice of any layoffs and must offer severance pay. The notice is to allow employers to seek employment elsewhere and to prepare themselves and their families. Hundreds of union workers were laid off immediately following the announcement, while others were let go later. Unfortunately, severance pay was not offered, and the layoff notification was given five days before the shutdown. Most workers reportedly learned about the closure when Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney’s office made an announcement the following day, after the explosion.
An Unforeseeable Event
Philadelphia Energy Solutions did explain to their employees why they were not given larger notice, stating that the destruction of the refinery was a disastrous event you could not predict, and keeping the refinery open would not have made much sense. The refinery has not filed for bankruptcy, though they had been struggling in recent years. The refinery fire convinced the company to close.
The lawsuit stated that Philadelphia Energy Solutions’ negligence to provide their employees the necessary 60 days of advanced notice directly violates the WARN act. This violation prevents workers the necessary time to search and train for other jobs in an otherwise crowded job market. The fire took two days to be extinguished. It was caused by an exploding butane tank, that caused a massive and violent chain reaction, leveling the refinery. The Philadelphia Health Department added that there is no immediate threat to city residents, though it did not rule out any long-term health effects to local neighborhoods over time.
Bucks County Employment Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Protect Those Wrongfully Terminated
Losing your job can be one of the most stressful and confusing times of anyone’s life, especially if you believe your termination was unjustifiable. If you were wrongfully laid off from your job, contact the Bucks County employment lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. right away. Our experienced and knowledgeable lawyers will fight for you and obtain the compensation you deserve. Call us today at 215-569-1999 or fill out our online form for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, and Montgomery County.