BEDFORD PARK, Ill. (CBS) — Employees at the bankrupt Art Van furniture stores were slapped with termination papers amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
And as CBS 2’s Jermont Terry reported, the nearly 5,000 employees learned something else they especially need ended immediately – their health insurance.
When Art Van announced its bankruptcy, there was shock – especially for employees. But the workers were told they had 60 days to work and keep their health insurance.
Hut now with the doors closed due to the coronavirus outbreak, those workers have found they won’t return.
Jennifer Reid’s husband worked at Art Van for 17 years. They left Michigan four years ago, and followed Art Van furniture when it came to Illinois.
“He did want to make sure when we did move. we stayed with Art Van because it was a good company to him,” Reid said.
The key word there is was. As of Wednesday night, there were signs out front telling of Art Van’s demise and liquidation after the furniture giant filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy earlier this month.
Employees like Reid’s husband were told at the time they had 60 days to keep working.
“He would still get paid no matter how many hours he was working until May 5. We would still have our benefits,” Reid said.
But then last week when the coronavirus pandemic hit, employees received a letter letting them know everyone was terminated.
“Completely without health insurance or any benefits, job, pay in the middle of crisis,” Reid said.
The notice informed them they would only get paid for hours worked. The liquidation sale signs in the windows at Art Van read, “nothing held back,” but for employees, something is being held back.
“Vacation pay – we can’t even get paid out for right now, because we have to go through the bankruptcy courts for that,” Reid said.
But the employees will have to get in line with the thousands of customers with money tied up in Art Van, and paid-for furniture sitting in the warehouses.
“There are about $35 million in consumer deposits for goods that won’t be delivered,” said attorney Clint Krislov.
Krislov handles class-action claims.
“In bankruptcy, it’s not that it’s no money. It’s just not enough money for everyone,” he said.
Krislov said under Art Van’s bankruptcy, employees are allowed to get vacation pay and money before consumers.
“There may be enough to pay some significant amount,” he said.
But consumers and employees must file a claim. Terry is told the Art Van employees are preparing to do just that, with a class-action suit.