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Ex-Central Freight employee files federal lawsuit, claims 2,100 workers owed 60 days’ pay

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Posted at 12:25 PM, Dec 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-30 20:03:11-05

WACO, Texas — A Waco man is suing Central Freight Lines after the company ended its 96-year-run, leaving approximately 2,100 employees without work.

Aaron Cox, a former Central Freight Lines employee, filed a class-action lawsuit against the Waco-based company on Dec. 14. Cox claims the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act was violated when Central Freight Lines did not provide a 60-day notice to him and other employees.

The WARN Act helps ensure advance notice in cases of qualified plant closings and mass layoffs, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

"Prior to their terminations, neither Plaintiff nor the Other Similarly Situated Employees received written notice that complied with the requirements of the WARN Act," according to the lawsuit filed in Waco’s federal court.

Cox is seeking 60 days’ pay and benefits, including 401(k) contributions. Any action taken by Cox through the suit is "on behalf of himself and on behalf of each of the Other Similarly Situated Employees," according to the suit.

Founded in Waco in 1925, Central stopped picking up freight on Dec. 13. The company also laid off most of its 2,130 workers.

“The company has been hemorrhaging cash and had operating losses for many years,” said President Bruce Kalem in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

Central lost a major customer in 2016 and took on substantial debt when it replaced its fleet between 2013-2017, according to Kalem.

“In the end, we just couldn’t get enough drivers to move our freight,” said Kalem.

According to the Department of Labor, there are three exceptions to the 60-day notice requirement, including if a "faltering company" is “actively seeking capital or business, which if obtained would avoid or postpone the layoff or closure, and if it reasonably believes that advance notice would hurt its ability to find the capital or business it needs to continue operating.”

A business is also not required to give 60-day notice if it “could not reasonably foresee business circumstances that led to a layoff or closing.”

It is unknown if those exceptions apply in Central’s situation.