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Archway Worker Sues over Abrupt Shutdown

A lawsuit by an abruptly laid-off employee alleges that Archway Cookies LLC violated state and federal labor laws because the company gave no warning before shutting down operations earlier this month.

The suit, by employee Jeffrey Austen, says the company, owned by the private-equity shop Catterton Partners, broke both California law and the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN), which requires companies to give workers 60 days' notice before laying them off.

The company had said that "unforeseeable business circumstances" forced an immediate shutdown, which, if true, would be a legitimate excuse. But Austen's lawyer, Rene' S. Roupinian, said the "reasons given for the company's lack of advance notice -- the rising cost of fuel and ingredients -- do not meet the WARN Act's 'unforeseeable business circumstances' exception."

Austen told Food Business News that employees "were notified of the shutdown by letter delivered in overnight mail. It's hard to believe that this 60-year-old company just vanished."

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