ABINGDON, Va. — A federal judge has granted class status to a group of former Bristol Compressors employees who are suing the company.

U.S. District Judge James P. Jones granted the motion for those affected by the July 2018 action by Bristol Compressors owners Garrison Investment Group to shutter the company’s manufacturing plant in the Bristol-Washington County Industrial Park. Layoffs occurred between July and November, when the facility finally closed.

The action claims the company’s owners violated the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act for failing to provide 60 days written notice prior to the closing and says workers were denied certain benefits, including severance pay.

Judge Jones approved three subclasses of workers who were affected in different ways — workers who were terminated between July 31 and Aug. 31, workers who worked past Aug. 31 after being promised a $1,000 bonus, and workers who worked over the initial layoff period without signing a bonus agreement. The bonus agreement stipulated that workers who signed could not join in a lawsuit.

Jones noted in his order that the plaintiffs intend to argue it was “unconscionable” to require workers “to sign an agreement waiving valuable rights to get the bonus they were already promised.”

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