Business & Technology
4:56 pm
Wed February 4, 2009

Former Mazer Employees Look for Answers

It's been just over one month since employees at the textbook publishing and printing company Mazer Corporation received an email from management telling them not to come back to work the next day. Since then, each passing week has brought on more questions and frustration for the former employees who have yet to receive their final paycheck. What once was an established family business in Dayton for 40 years is now the source anger for the employees, who are waiting for the benefits owed to them.

When Scott Bent lost his job, he began to make arrangements to move his wife and two young children in with his in-laws.

"Unfortunately, we don't have much of an emergency fund. Without that last pay check, there's just not enough funds to stay in the apartment and pay our other bills," says Bent.

Bent worked for the Creative Services Division at the Mazer Corporation which based in Dayton, but also has a branch in Tennessee. Like nearly 300 other employees, he had no warning that he would be without a job. He received an email at the end of the work day, saying the business is closing immediately.

"Then I just proceeded to walk around and talk to some folks and after a while I heard from someone that had talked to Cherie Mazer that we may not be getting our last paychecks and our health coverage was terminated. A sense that we were really being thrown to the wolves was starting to develop. I still haven't received my last paycheck, nor have any of my coworkers to my knowledge. That information was accurate, unfortunately," says Bent.

Bent, along with another former employee in Tennessee, is now suing the Mazer Corporation for violating the WARN Act, a federal law requiring companies to give 60 days notice before a mass layoff.

"I think everyone felt we had invested so much in this company. We'd gone above and beyond what, at least, what we were being compensated for to the benefit of the people that operated the company, and low and behold, we were all just being hung up to dry," says Bent.

Bruce Lazear is with Lazear Capital Partners, an investment company that tried at the last minute to save the Mazer Corporation. Lazear says that given just a few more days, he believes that at least part of the corporation could be saved, but that Ohio based KeyBank stopped funding.

"The bank was fearful that there were would be less proceeds on the liquidation for themselves if they stayed open, which is what happens when you lose money everyday, and the company was losing money every day. There's no question about that," says Lazear.

Former CEO, David Mazer agrees that the blame lies with the Bank. According to a statement he released, KeyBank controlled the company payments, including payments to vendors, employees salaries and health insurance. Employees lost their health insurance at the beginning of December, unbeknownst to them and several weeks before the layoff.

A spokesperson for KeyBank, Laura Mimura, says due to client privacy laws, she can't speak to the specific allegations.

"The closure of Mazer is truly an unfortunate situation and there have been many people have been hurt here but KeyBank has complied with all of the terms of its loan documents and has exercised its rights under applicable law," says Mimura.

For Scott Bent and others like him, regardless of where the blame lies, it's still a bitter pill to swallow.

"The question I ask myself is, why couldn't they have done something more than what they did? They did so little. They just basically did as little as they possible could. They sent out a mass email at the end of closing. A day, two days, three days of notice would have helped, at least something," says Bent.

Former Mazer employees may have to wait for the court to decide whether or not they'll get the benefits or the answers owed to them.

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