Former employees of AB&C Group, the fulfillment arm of reportedly shuttered BlueSky Brands Inc., have filed legal complaints against the companies.
BlueSky, which owns catalog companies including Paragon Gifts and Bits and Pieces, is said to have closed down on March 14 but did not warn workers of the close. The company has also failed to pay the workers earned wages and benefits that were not paid out before the shut-down.
Attorney Paul Taylor has filed a civil action suit in the circuit court of Jefferson County, WV, against AB&C, BlueSky and private equity firm Reliant Equity Investors, which owns BlueSky. Individuals such as Robert Pulciani, CEO of BlueSky; Thomas Darden Jr., managing director of Reliant Equity; and Philip Wax, CFO of AB&C, were also named in the suit.
“West Virginia has a wage payment and collection act, which requires payment of wages within 72 hours of termination, and that wasn’t done — that’s the meat and potatoes of this claim,” Taylor explained. “We’ve also included a claim for fraud because the company apparently withheld 401(k) contributions, health and life insurance and garnishments like child support and never paid them.”
A similar complaint was also filed in U.S. District court of West Virginia Northern (Martinsburg). Attorneys representing plaintiffs in this case are Garry Geffert, David Hammer and Robert Schiavoni.
“The West Virginia wage payment and collection act has very broad definitions placing responsibility on not only traditional employers but also officers and other persons and entities who have control over the operations of the company,” Geffert said. “And the information we have is that Reliant Equity has that sort of control over AB&C, and AB&C doesn’t have any money as far as we can tell.”
Both cases have applied for class action status, which would make them representative of the 400 workers who lost jobs at AB&C’s two West Virginia branches.
Geffert and Taylor both said that they will seek to recover the unpaid wages of the workers. WV also has a state statute which allows workers to collect up to three times the amount of lost wages in such cases.
Spokespeople for Reliant Equity, BlueSky and AB&C could not be reached, and no legal information could be found for the companies.
“All of these people have disappeared,” Taylor said when asked about opposing counsel. “But they’re going to have to come up for air at some point and answer some very difficult questions.”