Workers at Bed Bath & Beyond call centers in multiple states received notices this week that their jobs are being eliminated this summer.
The home goods retailer informed employees at its Ocoee, Florida, call center that more than 220 people would be let go on Aug. 22, according to a letter dated Tuesday and obtained by HuffPost. A separate email from a manager acknowledged an “unsettling” announcement that had left employees with “concerns, fear and disbelief.”
A question-and-answer document provided to employees referenced mass layoffs at three other locations in the U.S. A spokesperson for Bed Bath & Beyond declined to say how many workers were let go, explaining in an email that the layoffs were part of a “strategic restructuring program” announced earlier this year. That plan said Bed Bath & Beyond would “outsource several functions to allow the company to focus on core competencies.”
The Salt Lake City-based NBC affiliate KSL TV reported earlier this week that nearly 300 workers at the company’s Layton, Utah, call center were told they would lose their jobs as of Aug. 15.
The other two sites referenced in the Q&A obtained by HuffPost appear to be in New Jersey and Massachusetts. Bed Bath & Beyond is based in New Jersey.
Your role is comprised of work that is transitioning to a third party.
Bed Bath & Beyond to its call center workers
Setting aside the record sales at grocery stores, the retail sector was hit hard by the coronavirus, with brick-and-mortar shopping slowing dramatically amid stay-at-home orders. While online retailers continued to grow, companies like Bed Bath & Beyond that rely on sales in physical stores saw a historically sharp drop-off in business this spring.
Sales are now bouncing back, however, with retail sales shooting up 17% in May as states open back up.
But there appears to be little hope that the call center jobs will return with the economy. In the Q&A for employees, the company said the jobs were being outsourced to a “third party” ― and that the work will be done “at their offices overseas.”
The document went on to explain the decision in language that’s probably familiar to the many thousands of call center workers who have lost their jobs in recent years and watched their companies send them to places like the Philippines:
Your role is comprised of work that is transitioning to a third party. The new partner has advantages in technology, automation, and expertise that will allow us to reset our cost structure more efficiently. Based on our need to better align our current cost structure with the current state of the business, this was a difficult decision that we needed to make.
The workers were told they could continue working and remain on payroll until their termination date, at which point they would receive severance pay based upon their length of service to the company.