Friday, January 19, 2018

Veteran mover Graebel Van Lines ceases operations in wake of lawsuit, closings


Wednesday, April 5, 2017
by JACK WHITSETT

“A business that closes still must pay its employees,” said Los Angeles attorney Joshua H. Haffner. “The misclassification class action will proceed.” (LAW OFFICE OF JOSHUA H. HAFFNER)
“A business that closes still must pay its employees,” said Los Angeles attorney Joshua H. Haffner. “The misclassification class action will proceed.” (LAW OFFICE OF JOSHUA H. HAFFNER)

DALLAS — Graebel Van Lines, a 65-year-old carrier of household goods based in Dallas, has ceased operations, according to multiple reports.

The company, which had 875 drivers in 2015, is in liquidation, Graebel stated in a letter sent to its creditors March 22.

“Graebel Van Lines, LLC and its affiliates … are ceasing ongoing operations, effective immediately and will begin winding down their affairs,” the letter stated.  “Stored items will be transferred to a new service provider or made available for pickup by the owner.

“The assets of Graebel Van Lines and all of its operating affiliates are subject to the liens of a secured creditor.  Therefore, Graebel Van Lines and its affiliates are cooperating with the secured creditor to conduct an orderly liquidation of the Companies’ assets ... Please note that this is not a notice of bankruptcy, and no bankruptcy proceeding is pending at this time.

We regret that the circumstances of recent months have led to this result, and we ask for your cooperation in our efforts to manage this liquidation with a minimum of administrative expense.”

The “circumstances” include a class-action lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court by attorney Joshua Haffner on behalf of Graebel driver Fidel Coronel and others, charging failure to provide state-mandated breaks, minimum wages, expenses, overtime and for related issues.

Graebel laid off 50 people in Wisconsin in November and has closed other satellite offices recently.

Graebel Companies, Inc. sold Graebel Van Lines effective January 1, 2015, to an independent set of investors, a Graebel Companies spokesperson said. Since the divestiture, Graebel Van Lines is no longer a business owned by Graebel Companies, Inc. or any entity related to the Graebel Companies. For more than two years, Graebel Companies and Graebel Van Lines have been completely separate companies with different management teams.

Haffner, reached on April 4, told The Trucker that the lawsuit will go on.

“I notice they aren’t saying they are filing bankruptcy since they mentioned they will be 'ceasing ongoing operations … and will begin winding down their affairs,'” he said.

“A business that closes still must pay its employees. The misclassification class action will proceed.”

Commenting earlier, Haffner defended the basis for the class-action lawsuit.

“State laws supplement federal laws regarding labor, and the justification for them is federalism,” he said. “Each state has the right to regulate labor relations.”           

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