Ex-employee sues Lucky’s after layoff

NIWOT — A former Lucky’s Market employee in Florida has filed a class-action lawsuit against the Niwot-based natural-grocery chain that accuses the company of failing to provide adequate advance notice of store closures and layoffs. 

The adversary proceeding complaint was filed by Laura Forsyth on Monday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, the same court that is hearing Lucky’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition. 

Forsyth was an employee at the St. Petersburg, Florida, Lucky’s store until Monday, when store ownership closed the location “without providing the 60 days advance written notice required by the WARN Act,” court documents show. 

The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act requires companies to file notices with their state labor departments when they meet certain thresholds in terms of layoffs, providing 60 days’ notice.

Lucky’s filed its WARN notice for the St. Petersburg store — as well as stores in Gainesville and Melbourne, Florida — with Florida regulators on Jan. 24.

Forsyth — represented by attorneys with law firms Lankenau Miller LLP, The Gardner Firm PC, Wenzel Fenton Cabassas PC and Margolis Edelstein  — brings the complaint on “behalf of all other similarly situated former employees of [Lucky’s] who were affected by the mass layoffs and/or plant closings at the facilities ordered by [Lucky’s on Monday] and thereafter,” the filing said. Calls seeking comment from the attorneys were not returned.

Forsyth’s suit estimates that there are about 1,000 former Lucky’s employees who are similarly situated and could be party to the class-action suit. According to bankruptcy filings, the company had roughly 3,100 employees as of last month. 

The class-action suit claims damages in the form of lost wages, retirement contributions, insurance and other benefits, and medical expenses that would have been covered if the employee’s insurance was extended to the full 60-day WARN-notice period. 

Lucky’s representatives did not respond to BizWest’s requests for comment Tuesday.

Lucky’s filed for bankruptcy in late January soon after the company informed employees that it would shutter 32 of its 39 store locations across the country. 

That move came roughly a month after grocery giant Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) announced that it would sell its investment stake in Lucky’s, which was founded in Boulder by chefs Bo and Trish Sharon. Bankruptcy documents show that Kroger loaned Lucky’s more than $301 million dollars in recent years and had amassed a 55 percent stake in the company.

In the roughly two weeks since the Lucky’s closures were announced, bidders have emerged to buy out certain closing stores:

  • $7.8 million for sale of five leases and one real property asset to Aldi, which seeks to purchase stores in Coral Springs, Orlando, Venice, Sarasota and Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
  • $1.25 million for sale of a lease in Orlando to Seabra Foods XIV Inc.
  • A motion for sale of five leases to Publix Super Markets Inc. for stores in Clermont, Naples, Neptune Beach, Orlando and Ormond Beach, Florida, provides contradictory information on the purchase price. It states that the “price payable under the Agreement for the Assets shall be Thirteen Million Seven Hundred Eighty Thousand and No/100,” but then lists $11,483,333 as the price.
  • $3.7 million offered by the Sharons to acquire leases for stores in north Boulder; Fort Collins; West Melbourne, Florida; Columbia, Missouri; Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio; and Traverse City, Michigan.

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NIWOT — A former Lucky’s Market employee in Florida has filed a class-action lawsuit against the Niwot-based natural-grocery chain that accuses the company of failing to provide adequate advance notice of store closures and layoffs. 

The adversary proceeding complaint was filed by Laura Forsyth on Monday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, the same court that is hearing Lucky’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition. 

Forsyth was an employee at the St. Petersburg, Florida, Lucky’s store until Monday, when store ownership closed the location “without providing the 60 days advance written notice required by the WARN Act,” court documents show. 

The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act requires companies to file notices with their state labor departments when they meet certain thresholds in terms of layoffs, providing 60 days’ notice.

Lucky’s filed its WARN notice for the St. Petersburg store — as well as stores in Gainesville and Melbourne, Florida — with Florida regulators on Jan. 24.

Forsyth — represented by attorneys with law firms Lankenau Miller LLP, The Gardner Firm PC, Wenzel Fenton Cabassas PC and Margolis Edelstein  — brings the complaint on “behalf of all other similarly situated former employees of [Lucky’s] who were affected by the mass layoffs and/or plant closings at the facilities ordered by [Lucky’s on Monday] and thereafter,” the filing said. Calls seeking comment from the attorneys were not returned.

Forsyth’s suit estimates that there are about 1,000 former Lucky’s employees who are similarly situated and could be party to the class-action suit. According to bankruptcy…