Multiple Mayfield candle factory workers file lawsuit against Mayfield Consumer Products
MAYFIELD, Ky. (WAVE) - Multiple employees of the Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory have turned to the legal system and have filed a lawsuit against the company.
Lawyers they hired said they have evidence backing up the allegations that employees were not allowed to leave Friday night as storms approached.
According to the lawsuit filed in the Graves Circuit Court, the defendant violated KRS Chapter 338, a revised statute promoting the safety, health and general welfare of employees in Kentucky. Lawyers state the violation caused more than 100 employees to suffer bodily injuries “as a direct or substantial or proximate cause of Defendant’s actions and/or omission on December 10, 2021.”
A spokesperson representing the candle factory has refuted the claims that workers could not go home before a tornado destroyed it, killing eight people.
But the lawyers said they’ve got hard evidence the employees are telling the truth.
“We kept getting warnings on our phones about tornadoes,” said candle factory worker John Lawson. “No one wanted to stay, everyone kept saying they wanted to go home, but they wouldn’t let us.”
Lawson is the latest worker to say they could not go home that night.
It’s the same story employees told the family of Jill Monroe, originally from Oldham County, who was killed in the collapse.
“We were told that they were not allowed to leave, that they would be terminated if they did, we were told their team leads were guarding the door,” Monroe’s sister, Heather McGuffin said.
The company has refuted those claims, making one point that it would have been dangerous to go outside during the warnings. But D.C.-based attorney Amos Jones said they’ve got proof backing up the workers.
“Everything they’ve said is true,” Jones said. “We have documentary evidence from eyewitnesses there in real time.”
He acknowledged the company was hurt by the storm too. The factory is gone, but he said management could have made other decisions Friday.
“That’s why you have management, and that’s why you have executives: to demonstrate a degree of care, and a degree of concern, and a degree of responsibility,” Jones said.
Kentucky’s OSHA office inspected the candle factory in 2019.
It found the company had an emergency plan and trained employees on it. However, it issued more than $16,350 in penalties for eight violations, three of which were serious.
It settled the case with the company in July, lowering the penalties to $9,810.
The OSHA office has opened another investigation of what happened Friday night.
The candle factory also employed jail inmates. A Graves County deputy died of his injuries from the tornado.
WAVE 3 News has also learned through court records that the factory employed workers from Puerto Rico brought in on a labor contract.
We asked a spokesperson what the terms of that contract are, but have yet to hear back.
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