Cleveland plant warns employees not to quit before layoffs start

Published 12:05 am Thursday, January 7, 2016

Some laid off employees of Daimler’s Cleveland plant are leaving the company early after massive layoffs were announced earlier this week.

An internal email sent Tuesday afternoon doesn’t include an exact number. However, it confirms some workers turned in employee badges early after the company announced nearly 1,000 employees were be laid off because of a sustained reduction in orders. The email is addressed to all employees and describes ramifications associated with turning in employee badges early.

“It has to come to the attention of the management staff employees are turning in their employee badge and stating they are done for the week and are calling in sick for the remainder of the week,” the email states. “Please understand when you do this you are actually quitting. This means you are not entitled to any pay for the 60 day notice and no health care.”

When asked, Daimler’s corporate headquarters wouldn’t elaborate on the email. The Cleveland plant’s staff didn’t return calls requesting a comment.

In an email, Daimler spokesperson Kim Jarmer provided a statement released earlier this week. She said the statement would be the “only response to press inquiries.”

The last day of work for the 936 laid-off employees is Friday. However, employees will receive paychecks until March 5 because of the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, which requires a 60-day notice for mass layoffs at plants with more than 100 employees. The WARN Act dates back to 1988, when it passed a Democrat-controlled Congress by a veto-proof majority.

The act requires a 60-day notice before widespread layoffs. Daimler’s Cleveland plant is providing regular paychecks for a 60-day period instead of advance notice.

By turning in employee badges early, workers aren’t eligible to receive the WARN Act’s benefits, according to the internal email.

“I realize for those of you being laid off this may be your first experience with this type of situation and it can be very unsettling,” the internal email states “I cannot stress enough to you that the seniority date we communicated during the town hall can fluctuate until we finalize the numbers and positions. Therefore, if you turn in your badge and call in sick you may be quitting a job versus being laid off.”

The internal email doesn’t clarify what employees should do if he or she becomes sick before Friday, the last day of work. Any further questions in the email are directed to the plant’s human resources department.

Laid-off employees can accept a new job during the 60-day period outlined in the WARN Act. And Rowan County leaders have started a process to help workers find new employment.

A task force that includes county commissioners Chairman Greg Edds, Rowan Works Economic Development, the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce, United Way and Rowan-Cabarrus Community College has started planning a job fair at West End Plaza’s J.C. Penny Building for Jan. 22. Rowan-Cabarrus Community College is accepting applications this week from laid-off workers and will expedite the process.

The task force, formed immediately after news broke this week of the layoffs, is in the midst of figuring out other ways its participating agencies might be able to help.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.