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United Furniture Industries lays off 2,700 employees as they slept

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An enormous US furniture company this week fired all of its 2,700 employees while they were sleeping, telling them in texts and emails not to come back to work the subsequent day, in line with reports.

The mass firing on Tuesday by United Furniture Industries, which makes budget-friendly sofas and recliners for Simmons Upholstery, left hundreds of employees including truck drivers and factory employees in North Carolina, Mississippi and California unemployed just two days before Thanksgiving.

“On the instruction of the board of directors … we regret to tell you that resulting from unexpected business circumstances, the corporate has been forced to make the difficult decision to terminate the employment of all its employees, effective immediately, on Nov. 21,” the corporate said in messages to employees.

“Apart from over-the-road drivers which are out on delivery. Your layoff from the corporate is predicted to be everlasting and all advantages will likely be terminated immediately without provision of COBRA.”

The privately held, Okolona, Miss.-based company couldn’t be reached for comment.

Some UFI employees received this text telling them not to come back to work on Nov. 22.WXII

Drivers were told they’d be paid for the rest of the week and that they need to immediately “return equipment, inventory and delivery documents,” in line with the memo. 

A UFI truck driver was arrested in Monroe County, Miss., on suspicion of taking furniture off of a truck after he was laid off by the corporate, in line with the Day by day Press

It’s not clear why the two-decade-old company dissolved its operations so suddenly, but over the summer it had fired its chief executive, chief financial officer and executive vp of sales, in line with FurnitureToday.com. Several weeks later, some 500 employees lost their jobs at multiple facilities in Winston-Salem, NC, and Verona, Miss,. and Victorville, Calif.

The outside of UFI's headquarters.The corporate is headquartered in Tupelo, Miss.United Furniture Industries

On Tuesday, employees were later told they might come to their work spaces to “gather their belongings,” a UFI spokesperson told Freightwaves.com.

A laid-off employee told the publication, “It’s not fair to the laborers who seriously worked so hard to be blindsided like this. It’s not fair to the mom who just had a baby to wonder if she even has medical health insurance to cover it. It’s not fair to the cancer pateient within the midst of chemo about the best way to pay for her treatments.”

On Wednesday a former worker in Mississippi, Toria Neal, filed a lawsuit against UFI, alleging that the corporate violated federal law by failing to provide 60 days’ notice before dissolving the operations. 

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