CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s investigation into the sudden closure of Fairmont Regional Medical Center has yielded new information about whether hospital ownership provided advance notice of any mass layoff to employees.
The Attorney General revealed his concern in a recent letter to the Marion County Commission and Fairmont Mayor Brad Merrifield. The referral requests local officials give immediate consideration to an investigation and potential pursuit of civil penalties. Importantly, all allegations must be proven in a court of law.
The letter notes investigators received multiple complaints that Fairmont Regional’s owner, Alecto Healthcare Services, may have suspended operations prior to the conclusion of a mandatory notice period. If accurate, the early closure may entitle the relevant local government to a civil penalty of up to $500 for each day of the violation.
“Local officials should give immediate consideration to our referral,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “The 60-day notice mandated by federal law is an important requirement. It is vital for affected employees who must transition and crucial for local governments left to cope with the economic impact. Prompt action against any business that allegedly violates this law helps ensure future compliance.”
The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act requires certain employers to provide a 60-day notice to affected employees and the chief elected official of the local government in which the closing will occur.
When local government jurisdictions overlap, the notice must be provided to the locality to which the employer paid the highest taxes during the preceding year.
The federal law provides the relevant locality with jurisdiction to pursue any potential penalty.
Any Fairmont Regional employee with complaints related to wage payment and fringe benefit issues should submit an official request for assistance to the West Virginia Division of Labor. The complaint form can be completed online at https://labor.wv.gov.