Kentucky Tornadoes: Factory Workers Reportedly Warned They’d Be Fired If They Left Building

by Samantha Whidden
(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Days after the now-infamous Kentucky tornadoes that left nearly 75 dead and more than 100 missing on Friday (December 10th), details about what happened in the now destroyed Mayfield Consumer Products factory are surfacing. The factory’s workers are now revealing exactly what happened during the deadly storms.

According to NBC News, factory workers were reportedly threatened with firing if they left before the Kentucky tornadoes. It was revealed that as many as 15 workers implored managers to let them take shelter in their homes, as opposed to staying inside the factory. Their requests were denied.

Fearing for their safety, some factory workers left during their shift, regardless of the repercussions they would face. At least eight people perished in the now leveled Mayfield Consumer Products factory during the Kentucky tornadoes.

While speaking to the media outlet from her hospital bed, McKayla Emery reveals that workers first asked to leave shortly after the tornado sirens sounded outside the factory. This happened around 5:30 p.m. “People had questioned if they could leave or go home,” she explained. The factory worker noted that she preferred to stay at work to make extra money. Although overtime pay was available, it isn’t clear whether those who stayed were receiving additional pay. 

However, supervisors and team leaders told employers that leaving would probably jeopardize their jobs. Emery claims she overheard managers telling four workers standing near her that if they wanted to leave, they were more than likely fired. “I heard that with my own ears.”

Factory Workers Continue to Recall the Events That Occurred Inside the Facility During the Kentucky Tornadoes

Fellow factory worker Haley Conder, meanwhile, told NBC News that 15 people had asked to go home during the night shift shortly before the first emergency alarm sounded. There was a three-to-four-hour window between the first and second emergency alarms. 

Conder also revealed that initially, team leaders had told her they wouldn’t let workers leave due to safety precautions. So they kept all the workers in the hallways and bathrooms. Other employees claimed that once the team leaders mistakenly thought the tornadoes were no longer a threat, they sent everyone back to the factory floor. 

Conder declared that anyone who wanted to leave should have been allowed to. Elijah Johnson, who was working in the back of the building, recalls several employees wanting to go home. He joined them to speak with supervisors about the request. “I asked to leave and they told me I’d be fired,” he said. Even with the weather, they were willing to fire him.

Johnson added that managers went so far as to take a roll call in hopes of finding out who had left work. The company’s representatives are not commenting about the accusations.