WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. (WREG) — Family Dollar announced to employees Wednesday that it will close its West Memphis, Arkansas distribution center, which was linked to a rodent infestation that led to recalls and store closures earlier this year.
The West Memphis facility will close on or about July 17, at which time 230 employees will be separated from the company, according to a letter sent from Family Dollar to West Memphis Mayor Marco McClendon. Another 90 employees will be separated on Oct. 15.
McClendon said the city asked if anything could convince the company to stay, but was told the decision was final. The company attributed the decision to the age of its building, he said.
Family Dollar says eligible employees will receive a severance package. McClendon calls the separation from one of the city’s largest employers shocking and frustrating.
“We reached out and we offered any resources that we could … we even reached out with our animal control department or any services we felt could be accessible to them … so that this decision would not happen but honestly it looked like this thing was in the making once the lawsuit from the state came in,” McClendon said.
In a statement, Randy Guiler, Vice President for Investor Relations, said in part: “This was a difficult decision we did not take lightly, especially because of our outstanding team in West Memphis, our relationship with the community, and the partnership we have had with the State of Arkansas since 1994. We are committed to treating impacted associates fairly and respectfully, and we are doing everything we can to support them with their transitions, including providing severance plans to those who are eligible, as well as offering outplacement services and employee assistance programs.”
In February, 404 stores temporarily closed after an inspector with the Food and Drug Administration found more than 1,000 dead rodents at the West Memphis facility over a five-day span in January.
A report from the FDA states more than 2,300 live rodents were captured in the facility from March to September 2021.
In April, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge filed a lawsuit against the company, claiming Family Dollar made significant profits while “knowingly exposing Arkansas consumers to potentially hazardous or contaminated products by allowing and failing to prevent long-lasting and massive rodent infestations and other unsanitary conditions at its West Memphis Distribution center.”
Family Dollar is punishing hundreds of hardworking Arkansas families instead of cleaning up the company’s own illegal business practices that put their employees and consumers at risk. Rather than eliminating jobs, Family Dollar should eliminate deceptive and dangerous conduct.Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge
The 850,000 square foot warehouse opened in West Memphis in 1994. It serves stores in Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi.
Arkansas State Rep. Reginald Murdock says a meeting is being planned in West Memphis to discuss immediate assistance for displaced employees. A date and time have yet to be determined.