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Injured workers sue Mayfield, Kentucky candle company, claiming it deterred them from leaving factory as tornado approached

Candle factory destroyed by tornado
Candle factory destroyed by tornado in Kentucky, killing eight workers 04:21

Mayfield, Kentucky — Several workers injured when a candle factory here was decimated by a tornado Friday night are suing the candle maker, reports CBS Louisville affiliate WLKY-TV. One of the attorneys representing the survivors calls the factory "a modern-day sweatshop."

The suit, filed Tuesday, claims that as tornado warnings came in, employees were told they'd be fired if they left the Mayfield Consumer Products factory.

The lawsuit also alleges serious violations of worker safety laws and a massive cover-up scheme intended to protect the company.

The remnants of the Mayfield Consumer Products factory, in Mayfield, Ky. Employees were working overtime making candles for the holidays when a tornado hit Friday night.   CBS News

Its representatives are denying the claims. A spokesman for the company insisted that employees were free to leave anytime, according to The Associated Press.

Governor Andy Beshear says his office will thoroughly investigate the factory, since it's required to investigate any workplace deaths. Eight people were killed by the twister.

Biden surveys tornado damage in Kentucky 20:43

More than 100 people were working on holiday candle orders when the funnel leveled the facility. The extent of the damage initially stoked fears that scores of workers could be found dead in the rubble.

The company later said many employees who survived left the site and went to homes with no phone service, adding to the confusion over who was unaccounted for.

Since then, all workers have been accounted for, according to state and local officials who have spoken to the company. Louisville Emergency Management Director E.J. Meiman said late Monday that authorities now "have a high level of confidence that nobody is left in this building."

Attorneys said the employees will share their stories of survival Friday on a live gospel radio program.

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