According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Clearwater Paper Corp. has announced its plans to close a Thomaston tissue converting and distribution facility, a move which will affect approximately 150 workers, Georgia employment lawyers report. The Thomaston plant is located in Upson County, about an hour and a half south of Atlanta.
Clearwater Paper is based in Spokane, Washington, and operates 15 tissue manufacturing plants at various locations throughout the United States and Canada. The private label tissues are sold to major retailers and distributors. Company officials expect that the shutdown process will take about a year, with some activities continuing into 2014, at a cost of $6 to $7 million. The company will gradually shut down the equipment, which will then be integrated into the Oklahoma City and Shelby, North Carolina facilities. When the final lay-offs occur, your Atlanta employment lawyers know that many families are likely to sustain serious financial hardships. Additionally, with a plant this size, the local economy may be impacted as well.
When a major employer shuts its doors, many issues, both financial and emotional, can arise for the workers who are displaced by the closure. These workers are likely to qualify for unemployment benefits through the Georgia Department of Labor, but these benefits may not be enough to cover monthly expenses. Some workers may qualify for severance packages through their soon-to-be-former employer, although there is no guarantee as to how much, if any, severance an employee may receive.
Another issue that is likely to arise is health insurance coverage. Many Thomaston workers may provide the sole source of medical insurance coverage for their families. Fortunately, federal law governs the continuation of insurance coverage following a lay-off. In many instances, continuing health coverage can extend up to 36 months depending on the circumstances. The Atlanta employment attorneys at Parks, Chesin & Walbert want to ensure displaced workers are made aware of their rights to this continued coverage, as well as the costs of that coverage, which can be extremely high in some cases.
Workers who are facing lay-offs also must be conscious of what benefits they receive from their employer in comparison to their fellow workers. Employers may not discriminate on certain grounds when they decide what benefits to make available to workers who will be laid off. The procedures by which employers choose to lay off workers, such as the order of termination, cannot be unlawful or discriminatory.
If you are being laid off, downsized, or otherwise displaced by your employer, you have certain rights, and your employer must abide by the law. For more information about how these laws can affect you and your situation, contact an employment attorney at Parks, Chesin & Walbert for a free consultation at our Atlanta office.