Niche settles with laid off workers

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NEW BEDFORD — Niche Inc., the South End manufacturer that laid off about 400 workers in April 2012, has settled with former employees who sued on the grounds that they didn’t get sufficient notice of the layoff.

Niche, a manufacturer of sewn and machined goods, cut more than half its 740-person workforce in April 2012 when its government contracts were reduced.

Adrian Ventura, executive director of Centro Comunitario Trabajadores, which had a role in organizing the Niche workers, said the settlement is for $350,000 and covers approximately 160 workers.

In November 2012, two former Niche workers, Pedro De La Cruz and Julio Torres, brought suit against the company in U.S. District Court in Boston, arguing that Niche failed to provide notice required under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act.

The WARN Act requires employers to provide notice 60 days in advance of certain plant closings and mass layoffs.

In June, Centro Comunitario Trabajadores staged a protest in front of Niche’s Cove Street factory.

The two parties announced the settlement in a joint press release in late July. The release said that while Niche continues to deny that it violated the law, it is pleased that the settlement will compensate some affected by the layoff.

Justice At Work, co-counsel for the defendants, said in the release that it hopes the case will make employers everywhere recognize the effect on workers of suddenly losing their jobs.

The terms of the settlement were not immediately available.

Follow Simon Rios on Twitter @simonfriosSCT


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