WhiteRidge Plastics LLC of Reidsville, N.C., has terminated 60 employees of its blow molding operation after a personnel audit showed they lacked proper employment eligibility documentation, company officials said.
In a Feb. 22 telephone interview, Max Barton, director of corporate communications and investor relations for WhiteRidge's owner, Myers Industries Inc. of Akron, Ohio, said Myers conducted a routine audit earlier this year of WhiteRidge employees hired through a staffing firm.
The audit found the workers' U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services I-9 forms did not satisfactorily prove they were eligible to work in the United States.
``Employees were given an opportunity to prove their status, or else we had to dismiss them as part of our legal obligations,'' Barton said. He did not know how long the 60 had worked at WhiteRidge, their home countries or the name of the staffing firm that hired them. Barton said the fired employees would be replaced by workers with proper documentation.
Myers acquired WhiteRidge in January 2007 as part of its purchase of Brantford, Ontario, rival ITML Horticulture Products Inc. Barton said none of the other ITML companies audited have had to let workers go because they lacked the correct paperwork.
Citing state privacy laws, Larry Parker, a spokesman for the North Carolina Employment Security Commission, would not comment on the WhiteRidge case. He said he has read accounts of other employers in the state who have run afoul of immigration laws, but did not cite specific examples.
WhiteRidge announced in 2004 it would invest $822,000 in its Reidsville plant, which included 30,000 square feet of manufacturing space and 60,000 square feet of storage. The company operated 12 machines with shot capacities of 1-70 pounds.
WhiteRidge's products include dock floats, power tool cases, trash cans and nursery containers. The company ranked 110th among North American blow molders in Plastics News' 2007 survey, with 2006 sales of about $6 million. According to the survey, WhiteRidge employs 85. Barton did not know if that number included the workers who were terminated.