Employees Who Lost Health Insurance File Lawsuit

Two former Art Van employees have filed a federal lawsuit after losing their healthcare in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Todd Stewart, a former manager at the Lakeside location, and Jennifer Sawle, filed for class action status on behalf of themselves and others who are adversely impacted. They alleged that Art Van violated the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN Act) which requires companies to provide at least 60 calendar days advance written notice of a plant closing or mass layoff that affects 50 or more people.

Art Van shut down stores on March 19th, just two weeks after the company announced it was closing all stores. In Warren, where the headquarters are located, more than 260 people were employed. More than 3,000 employees worked for the company.  According to the complaint, about 700 employees  “were terminated without cause as part of, or as the result of, mass layoffs or plant closings” ordered by Art Van beginning March 4th.

Archie “Art” Van Elslander founded Art Van in 1959, opening his first store in East Detroit. Van Elslander’s furniture first business was a 4,000 square-foot space on Gratiot Avenue and 10 Mile Road. He expanded to three stores in that same year, and a fourth store opened in 1960.  When they closed, the now bankrupt business had 169 locations in 9 states, including the store in Port Huron that opened in 2002.

Reporting for WGRT – Marty Doorn