UPDATE (4/7/20 3:34 p.m.):
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has released new information about his investigation into Alecto Healthcare Services.
In a release, Morrisey said he sent a letter to Marion County Commission and Fairmont Mayor Brad Merrifield. The referral requests local officials give immediate consideration to an investigation and potential pursuit of civil penalties.
The letter Morrisey sent notes that investigators received multiple complaints that Fairmont Regional Medical Center’s owner, Alecto, may have suspended operations prior to the conclusion of a mandatory notice period. Morrisey said the early closure may entitle the relevant local government to a civil penalty of up to $500 for each day of the violation.
“Local officials should give immediate consideration to our referral,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “The 60-day notice mandated by federal law is an important requirement. It is vital for affected employees who must transition and crucial for local governments left to cope with the economic impact. Prompt action against any business that allegedly violates this law helps ensure future compliance.”
The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act requires certain employers to provide a 60-day notice to affected employees and the chief elected official of the local government in which the closing will occur.
When local government jurisdictions overlap, the notice must be provided to the locality to which the employer paid the highest taxes during the preceding year, according to the release.
The federal law provides the relevant locality with jurisdiction to pursue any potential penalty.
Morrisey said any FRMC employee with complaints related to wage payment and fringe benefit issues should submit an official request for assistance to the West Virginia Division of Labor.
ORIGINAL STORY (4/6/20 6:20 p.m.):
In a letter to FRMC employees, Morrisey said he was “deeply concerned with Alecto’s apparent disregard of its moral and statutory obligations.”
Morrisey explained in the letter that under state code, employers must pay an employee’s prior earned wages “on or before the next regular payday on which the wages would otherwise be due and payable.” Employers must also pay any accrued fringe benefits according to the terms of the relevant agreements with their employees.
State code states that violations of these mandates may entitle employees to two times the unpaid amount, in addition to their earned wages and benefits.
Morrisey said he has been working with the West Virginia Division of Labor to investigate any violations of the Wage Payment and Collection Act related to the closure of FRMC. He encourages employees to submit any complaints through the Division of Labor.
Also in the letter, Morrisey stated that on April 3, he referred the matter to officials in Marion County and the City of Fairmont for an investigation and potential pursuit of federal civil penalties under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act of 1988.
Morrisey explained that this statute requires certain employers to provide 60-day notice to affected employees prior to a “plant closing or mass layoff.” Notice must also be provided to “the chief elected official” of the local government in which the closing occurs. The statute prohibits the closure or layoff “until the end of” the 60-day period except in statutorily defined circumstances, the letter states.