When a company sells a division of itself, can it simply sign away accrued employee benefits that they will not have with the new owner? The complaint for this class action alleges that when FMC Corporation sold its Health and Nutrition Division to DowDuPont, it allowed employees’ accrued vacation days to simply be wiped out without compensation.
The class for this action is all persons who were employed by FMC in Maine and whose employment with FMC was ended as part of the 2017 sale of its Health and Nutrition Division to DowDuPont.
The five plaintiffs in this case work at a seaweed processing plant at Crockett’s Point in Rockland, Maine. Four of them worked at the facility for FMC for lengths of time varying between twenty-three and twenty-seven years; the fifth worked there for nineteen years.
During the time the facility was owned by FMC, the company provided employees with paid vacations. It had a policy of paying out any accrued but unused vacation time whenever an employee separated from the company—for example, when they retired or their positions were terminated—except for those who quit unilaterally or were terminated for cause.
Employees accrued vacation time at different rates. Those with ten to nineteen years of service received four weeks of vacation time per year; those with twenty or more years accrued five week of vacation time per year.
The accrued time was not usable as time off until January 1 of the following year.
On November 1, 2017, FMC sold its Health and Nutrition Division, including the Crockett’s Point facility, to DowDuPont. The complaint claims that the sale was “part of a massive, multi-part deal designed to facilitate the Dow-DuPont merger…”
However, the complaint says that FMC made no provisions to compensate employees for the value of vacation time they had accrued between January 1, 2017 and the close of the deal in November. Since time accrued during 2017 was not usable under FMC’s policies until after January 1, 2018, no employee had been able to use any of that vacation time.
In November 2017, the former FMC employees became employees with DowDuPont with no accrued vacation time. They were compensated for vacation time accrued through 2016, but not for any time accrued during 2017.
The complaint claims this is not only going back on longstanding FMC practices and provisions; it is a violation of Maine law: “Maine wage law expressly requires the seller of a business to either pay its former workers their paid vacation within two weeks of the sale or to secure the buyers’ agreement to honor it. FMC did neither.”
The complaint brings suit under Maine laws for wage theft.