Former worker files federal suit against ASI

  • Comments
  • Print

An employee of a Whitestown manufacturer that abruptly closed in late December is suing the company for allegedly failing to give workers a required 60-day notice that the plant would be shutting down.

Andrew Shepherd filed the federal suit this month against ASI Limited and is seeking class-action status on behalf of roughly 200 employees who lost their jobs with the company.

ASI, located in the Anson development near Interstate 65 northwest of Indianapolis, makes exterior enclosures for large buildings. It informed employees by letter on Dec. 30 that the company was shutting down because it was no longer profitable.

Shepherd claims ASI has failed to pay employee salaries, commissions, bonuses and accrued holiday and vacation pay for the 60 days following their termination as required by the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification, or WARN, Act.

In addition, ASI hasn’t made 401(k) contributions or provided them with health insurance coverage and other employee benefits, the lawsuit said.

Companies with at least 100 workers that expect to close or lay off 50 or more employees must notify the state 60 days prior to the action.

With $65.2 million in revenue in 2010, ASI ranked as the sixth-largest glazing contractor in the nation, according to USGlass Magazine.

In a Dec. 30 statement, ASI said: “Management is currently reviewing its financial viability moving forward. It is hopeful that we can re-commence operations sometime in the near future.”

ASI made curtain walls and exterior claddings for large projects throughout the country. Its work in downtown Indianapolis included buildings such as the 33-story JW Marriott hotel, Lucas Oil Stadium and Central Library.

At the time of its closing, the company was designing 219,000 square feet of weathered steel panels for the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn, where the New Jersey Nets of the National Basketball Association are set to begin playing next season.

ASI is operating in some capacity under the arena’s contractor, Hunt Construction Group, to help finish the project, according to New York media reports. Ohio Farmers Insurance Co. of Westfield, Ohio, held a surety bond on the project to ensure construction of the $1 billion sports arena is completed.

Reports also say Hunt is seeking additional companies to make the steel, however.  

Whether ASI has recalled any workers is unclear. Company President Ken Smith did not return phone calls from IBJ.

Dax Norton, director of the Boone County Economic Development Corp., is uncertain about the company’s status, as well.

“I’ve heard nothing,” he said. “We don’t know what’s going on because we haven’t heard from the owner.”

Founded in 1989, ASI moved from Park 100 on the northwest side of Indianapolis in 2008 to the Whitestown Industrial Park in Duke Realty Co.’s Anson development.

ASI occupied about 200,000 square feet in Anson and was one of three large employers in the development. Amazon occupies about 1 million square feet and has about 850 workers while Medco occupies 400,000 square feet and has roughly 450 employees.

Most big employers are aware of the WARN Act obligations and will consult a lawyer to ensure that they comply with the law, said Michael Blickman, an employment law attorney at Ice Miller LLP.

Therefore, he said, lawsuits stemming from WARN Act violations are rare.

Exceptions to the act include “unforeseeable” business circumstances and natural disasters.

Federal guidelines say a company can be fined $500 for each day it is in violation of the required notification.

Please enable JavaScript to view this content.

Story Continues Below

Editor's note: You can comment on IBJ stories by signing in to your IBJ account. If you have not registered, please sign up for a free account now. Please note our updated comment policy that will govern how comments are moderated.