Fired Market Basket employees express intent to take legal action

Updated:

TEWKSBURY, Mass. (MyFoxBoston.com) -- An attorney for eight fired Market Basket employees sent a letter to the company's co-CEOs notifying them that they intend to exercise all their legal rights under state and federal law.

In a letter dated Aug. 1, Douglas Louison tells Felicia Thornton and James Gooch they are in violation of the law and of his clients' individual rights.

"You have illegally withheld and refused to pay them their earned wages and benefits and have further failed to provide them with a full accounting of their vested profit sharing plan," Louison claims. "In addition, since their wrongful termination you failed to conform with company procedures in notifying them of their rights to said wages and benefits."

Tom Trainor, James Lacourse, Steve Paulenka, Joe Garon, Dean Joyce, Michael Kettenbach, Jr., Joe Schmidt, and Tom Gordon were fired after workers began protesting for the reinstatement of former CEO Arthur T. Demoulas.

An attorney for Market Basket released the following statement in response to the letter Friday:

“Company practice is not to comment on personnel matters. However, we are unaware of any facts that support the claims made in the demand letter. The company will respond to the letter directly, and will not address the issue further in the media.”

Schmidt, who spent 27 years working for the grocer as an operations supervisor, said, "None of us received the pay that was due to us, vacation pay for example," he said.

He went on to say, "We have concern for the associates, even though we're no longer with the company, we're concerned everyone gets their wages that are due to them."

Gordon, a district supervisor of 39 years said "a number of us filed individual complaints with the Attorney General," but when they didn't see the results they wanted, they decided to get a lawyer.

Their lawyer's letter came one day after the Mass. and N.H. attorneys general wrote their own letter to the Market Basket chief executives out of concern for the supermarket chain's employees.

"We are keenly aware of recent reports that Market Basket has terminated a number of employees and of reports today that more workers may face termination and replacement in the coming days," the letter from Martha Coakley and Joseph Foster stated. They went on to say they urge Market Basket to be "mindful of the fact that its decisions have broad implications."

The executives responded to that letter with a statement that expressed the desire for all their employees to return.

"We have said several times that we hope sincerely that we do not discharge any employees. We want our associates back," the statement read. "We are focused solely on getting Market Basket stores back up and running for our customers and, importantly, for the many local vendors that rely on Market Basket to make their own businesses successful."

Market Basket CEOs released a statement Wednesday telling employees to return to work by Monday. Those who don't will be fired, and Market Basket will hold a three-day job fair next week.