Market Basket
5:26 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

Attorneys General To Market Basket Leadership: Be Mindful Of State Employment Laws

Credit Ella Nilsen / NHPR

The attorneys general of New Hampshire and Massachusetts have warned Market Basket officials to be aware of the rights of workers if they fire any employees.

In a letter addressed to the board Chair and co-CEOs of Demoulas on Thursday, New Hampshire Attorney General Joe Foster and Massachusetts A.G. Martha Coakley urged company leadership to be mindful of state laws regarding employee termination and pay.

Foster says his office has seen an uptick in calls from Market Basket employees questioning their rights under the law.

  “They’re reaching out. They’re concerned. And it puts our antenna up and we felt that we should remind them to make sure they’re cognizant of the employment laws. I’m sure they are. I’m sure they’ll follow them. We just want to remind them to do so.”

Foster says state law is clear when it comes to rights of employees who are terminated.

  “Within 72 hours, they’ve got to make all payments due. That’s not only the regular paycheck; it’s accrued vacation pay and so forth.”

It’s been several weeks since Market Basket workers began protesting the firing of former CEO Arthur T. Demoulas.

The company has warned employees if they don’t return to work by Monday, they’ll start filling their positions.

Foster says he’s not sure which employees would be let go.

  “I understood that people are in fact working, but in their free time are demonstrating in effect and raising their concerns. So that is something that will have to be considered and thought about more. We’ll have to see what the company is talking about. Because it isn’t clear to me who they’re talking about.”

The company has already fired several employees in response to the protests.

The grocery chain is one of the largest private employers in New Hampshire.

Foster says the dispute is having a ripple effect in the state.

  “It’s impacting customers but it’s also impacting a number of other businesses, both small and large in very material ways,” Foster said. “So we just wanted to make sure they’re considering that as they’re making their decisions and hopefully taking that into account.”

Thursday:

In a letter addressed to the board Chair and co-CEO's of Demoulas on Thursday, New Hampshire Attorney General Joseph Foster and Massachusetts A.G. Martha Coakley urged the leadership of the Market Basket grocery chain to be mindful of state laws regarding employment termination and pay, and of the broad impact the company's decisions could have on employees, customers, and small businesses that supply the chain. Saying they are "keenly aware" of recent terminations and reports of impending firings within the company, Foster and Coakley said their offices had seen an "uptick" in contacts by employees of Market Basket who had questions about their rights under the law. 

We will continue to follow this developing story. You can read the full text of the letter released to the press on Thursday right here:

Letter to DeMoulas Super Markets from N.H., Mass. Attorneys General

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