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Former Shop-Vac workers file lawsuit

Former employees of Shop-Vac Corp. who were suddenly terminated in September have filed a class-action lawsuit against their former employer in federal court.

More than 400 employees at the factory at 2323 Reach Road, a leading manufacturer of wet/dry vacuum cleaners and accessories, were terminated without notice in mid-September, and within 90 days of that date, according to the lawsuit in U.S. Middle District Court.

Among those terminated was Candice Gair, who is the lead plaintiff in the suit, which alleges Shop-Vac terminated her and similarly situated employees in violation of the Worker Retraining Notification Act (WARN Act).

The labor law makes it necessary to provide 60 days advance written notice of their terminations, according to Robert E. Chernicoff, the plaintiffs’ attorney, with Cunningham, Chernicoff & Warshawsky of Harrisburg.

When the employees were terminated, dozens of the workers held signs in protest outside of the plant, fearful to step back onto the property after being told they would be charged with trespassing if they did.

The aggrieved workers walked along the berm of Reach Road holding signs and granting interviews.

A security guard walked behind them to ensure they were not on the company grounds.

Gair was among those allegedly terminated without notice and without cause as the company began a plant closing or mass layoff on or about Sept. 15. Until then, Gair was employed at the business for five years, the suit said.

The business was established in 1953 as a family-owned company. It had two factories, its headquarters in Williamsport and one in Binghamton, New York.

Shop-Vac dedicated its Williamsport factory to making higher-end products for customers.

In the face of its on-going liquidity challenges, a refinancing/sale process took place.

In late December 2020, a Chinese conglomerate, Hangzhou Equipment Holdings, a subsidiary of Hangzhou Great Star Industrial, announced it had acquired ownership of Shop-Vac.

The aggrieved former employees are seeking a judge’s order to grant them unpaid salary, commissions, bonuses, holiday pay, vacation pay, pension contributions and other benefits, for 60 days, that would have been covered and paid under the then-applicable employee benefits plans.

Notice or a summons to Shop-Vac Corp. was sent Tuesday in the civil action before U.S. Middle District Judge Matthew W. Brann.

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