Kentucky Candle Factory Threatened to Fire Workers Who Fled Deadly Tornado
Workers at a Kentucky Candle Factory said they pleaded with managers to allow them to leave as a deadly tornado headed towards them over the weekend — but say they were told they’d be fired if they left.
The tornadoes that ravaged Kentucky and nearby states left 74 Kentuckians dead, including children. Thousands of homes remain without power.
Gov. Andy Beshear (D-KY) said the storms were “the strongest set of tornadoes that we have ever seen in Kentucky and what we believe will probably be one of the most devastating tornado events in U.S. history.”
Among the fatalities were eight workers at a candle factory in Mayfield that was reduced to rubble. Multiple Mayfield Consumer Products factory employees said they took shelter in bathrooms and hallways when they first heard the tornado warning sirens, but supervisors ordered them back to work.
“I asked to leave and they told me I’d be fired,” 20-year-old Elijah Johnson told NBC.
He said he asked his manager: “‘Even with the weather like this, you’re still going to fire me?'” His manager replied, “Yes,” Johnson said, adding that they took a roll call to find out if anyone had left.
“‘You can’t leave, you can’t leave. You have to stay here,'” Haley Conder, 29, said the managers told the group. “The situation was bad. Everyone was uncomfortable.”
Mayfield Consumer Products spokesperson Bob Ferguson denied the allegations.
“It’s absolutely untrue. We’ve had a policy in place since Covid began. Employees can leave any time they want to leave and they can come back the next day,” Ferguson said.