Former employees accuse Illinois hospital owner of failing to give lawful termination notice

Former employees of the shuttered Westlake Hospital in Melrose Park, Ill., are accusing the hospital's owner of violating federal labor law by failing to give 549 of them 60-day notice of their termination, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

The lawsuit, which reportedly seeks class-action status, comes after Westlake closed in August. 

Los Angeles-based Pipeline Health announced the closure plans in February after acquiring Westlake from Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare. 

In April, hospital workers were told they would lose their jobs, the Sun-Times reported. A wind-down began in April, but that process was halted in May prompted by a lawsuit filed by the village of Melrose Park. A wind-down began again in August after the hospital filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation.

The U.S. Labor Department website states that the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act requires employers with 100 or more employees to provide at least 60 days' notice of a mass layoff affecting 50 or more employees at one employment site.

But according to the Sun-Times, employers, per federal law, must notify staff with an updated notice if mass layoffs are extended two weeks after the planned closure.

Former employees of Westlake contend that they assumed they still had jobs because of a preliminary injunction that forced Westlake to continue operations, the newspaper reported. The lawsuit says a Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee then notified 549 employees on Aug. 19 that their jobs were terminated.

"Plaintiffs and the putative class members were blindsided by this announcement, especially given that there was — and still is — a preliminary injunction in place prohibiting Pipeline-Westlake from closing the hospital," the suit reads. 

Pipeline Health was not immediately available for comment to the Sun-Times.


More articles on workforce:

St. Lawrence Health System seeks to fill 120 jobs
Georgia health system seeks to fill 207 jobs
California hospitals may soon be required to employ more of their independent contractors

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