Unexpected Shutdown More Than 40 Sumter Workers Jobless After Harvin Choice Meats Closes

Unexpected Shutdown: More Than 40 Sumter Workers Jobless After Harvin Choice Meats Closes

Over 40 individuals are unemployed in Sumter after a company announced its closure effective immediately. Harvin Choice Meats, formerly Kirkland Provision, has been a fixture in the neighborhood since its inception in the 1930s. It has been family-owned and run for decades, but owner Scott Harvin announced Monday evening that it will close its doors.

“I was shocked,” Levette Edwards said. “I felt like a deer in headlights.”

Edwards stated that she had been working as the office administrator at the meat business for seven years. She stated that the sudden shutdown placed financial pressure on her and other employees, including Sonya Sneed.

“I’m upset about all of this,” Sneed remarked, apparently distressed. “You see, I can’t get unemployment since I owe them money right now. All of it will have to be paid back before I can receive any of my unemployment benefits, so I’m very disappointed.

Employees such as Josh Christmas report that their most recent paycheck is being removed from their bank accounts.

“I go look in my bank account, and my deposit from April 2, which was two weeks ago, had been…it had a negative number next to it saying that it had been deducted even though I’d already used that money,” Santa explained.

“I’d say it impacts us all much the same. I mean, some of us rely on that money from paycheck to paycheck,” he explained. “Some of us, perhaps not, but it can do a lot of things. Some of us have bills that are due and intend to pay them using this portion of our paycheck. I mean, it can have varying effects on various people. But when it comes to money, that’s how life is. “You need money to support your family and other expenses.”

Scott Harvin began working in the family business as a teenager.

“I swore I would never return. When I returned, my father suggested I look for a job in the summer because I had experience driving trucks. While you’re seeking for work, I could use some assistance,” Harvin recalled. “I was engaged and getting married, and her parents lived in town.”I stayed, and here we are.”

Harvin said he’s been with the company his entire career, eventually taking over as owner in 2007.

“My heart’s with my employees, and I’m working hard to make sure that they’re taken care of,” Harvin was quoted as saying. “It’s going to be difficult, but I’m willing to do whatever it takes to do.”

In some cases, the company employed individuals for decades. Bobby Brown, for example, claims to have been with Harvin Choice Meats for 32 years. “Working there all this time, it’s been a good run,” Brown went on to say. “I mean, like, meeting pretty much everybody was like family.”

Harvin claims that the business has struggled as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak and growing inflation.

“If I were smart, I probably would have shut down before or during COVID, but I’m emotionally connected to the business and I’ve never done anything else,” he said. “It is past time. Because I’ve done this my entire life and it’s a family thing, I admitted to a friend that I’ve made some emotional decisions that weren’t business decisions.

Harvin claims he didn’t see the hasty decision to close the business coming until Sunday when he received an email from a vendor informing him that the money he owed would never be paid.

“I can’t go forward. “There’s just nowhere to go,” Harvin explained. “And if I continue to act as if nothing is wrong, I’m simply going to exacerbate the problem, so I was like, I can’t do that. As tough as it is, I am unable to accomplish it.”

Harvin stated that he informed staff the next day that the company would have to close. Regarding the withdrawn paychecks, Harvin stated that he employs an independent payroll business.

“I use an outside payroll company and I look, of course, daily at my bank balance, and you know there was not a lot of money, but there was enough to cover,” Harvin went on to say. “And, you know, two or three other minor trades happened, but there wasn’t. I had no communication with this company; they simply bounced it back. “They also bounced mine back.”

Harvin claimed he was working with the corporation to resolve the situation and return the money to his former employees.

“At this time, we appear to be close to reaching an agreement so that I can take care of it; it will simply mean that I am personally in debt, but at this point, whatever it takes. “It is not an option,” Harvin explained.

As for the staff, Christmas stated that he is considering all alternatives.

“I’m looking for a job and I filed because you don’t know when you’re going to get a job,” he explained. “So you need to have it as a backup sitting there while you hunt for another employment, which I believe is what we’re all trying to do. Trying to make room because there’s a boom, just like when the ball dropped.”

Harvin stated that his primary goal is to resolve payroll concerns, after which he will work to clear the building’s goods. According to the agency, companies must only submit advance notice if they meet the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act requirements. According to the act, if a company employs more than 50 people, employees must be given 60 days’ notice of its closure.

According to Harvin, Harvin Choice Meat employs 45 employees, thus the department stated that the WARN Act does not apply in this circumstance, which SCDEW verified.

“In this case, the company has under 50 employees, and WARN would not be applicable,” he wrote. “Aside from WARN, employers are not required to provide advance notice to their employees.”

“Employees who are laid off through no fault of their own may file for unemployment insurance benefits, and each employee will receive an eligibility determination based on his/her eligibility for benefits,” a representative for the SCDEW said. “We consider all claims for benefits expedited, and typically issue a determination within two weeks.”

“Even though WARN is not applicable here, our Rapid Response team has been in contact with employees and is providing resources,” said a company spokeswoman. “DEW encourages impacted employees to reach out to their local S.C. Works center or visit the SCWorks.org website for assistance.”

“In South Carolina, if employees work, they must be paid,” a spokeswoman stated via email. “Employers can specify the terms of employment (e.g., rate of pay, pay date, leave, etc.) and must follow what is agreed upon. So, even if an employer has closed, it is still responsible for ensuring that all employees are compensated for their labor.

According to the department, in this case, an employer must follow S.C. Code Section 41-10-50, which states that when an employer separates an employee from the payroll for any reason, the employer must pay all wages owed to the employee within 48 hours of separation or the next regular payday, which may not be more than 30 days later.

“All employees who believe this statute has been violated (i.e. worked but did not get paid or got paid late) can file a Wage Complaint using this link: SCLLR,” the agency stated in a statement. “Complaints are reviewed and assigned in the order that they are received. We normally refer complaints from the same employer to a single investigator. While we evaluate for regulatory infractions and issue penalties, we make no promises that an employee will get owed pay, and we do not collect wages on their behalf.

Employees like Edwards care about more than just their paychecks.

“We all need to be paid for the time that we worked,” Edwards stated. “Many of us saved vacation time for future occasions. We deserve to be rewarded for all owed to and due to us.”

“I’m supposed to be going on vacation next week,” said former employee Patricia McBride. And so I’ve applied for it and everything, and all of a sudden, as I mentioned, on Monday morning, we strolled in and were told the horrible news that we were closing. And I was astonished.

Harvin stated that the business has evolved dramatically since he began working.

“A long time ago, there were a lot of what I call community grocery stores or rural stores all over the countryside and there were more farm workers and laborers in the fields and servicing those customers is really the bread and butter of the business,” Harvin went on to say. “Over time, for various reasons, a lot of those stores have closed.”

“It has made things more difficult. You wind up interacting with fewer customers on a greater scale, I suppose, so it isn’t as enjoyable as it once was,” he added. “Good people – no complaints there – but just a whole different environment than what used to be.”

Harvin said he understood his former employees’ anger and dissatisfaction.

“I understand people are upset, and that’s normal,” he remarked. “I don’t know what else to do but try to be honest and straightforward, and do everything I can. “That is all I know.”

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