At least two Texas-based workers who were suddenly laid off soon after the holidays are now fighting back against their former employer, Parker School Uniforms.
Brent Crowley thought he'd spend the next several years managing the Parker School Uniforms store in Dallas.
"I loved my job. I loved going to work every day," he said.
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But earlier this year, he received an email that would change everything.
"My son instantly knew something was wrong. He said 'what's wrong daddy.' I said I think something very bad just happened," Crowley explained.
The emails said the company continued to "struggle to meet financial obligations" and asked employees to "not report to work tomorrow."
Crowley said a stunned regional manager told him they would be paid in a few days, but that money never came.
"If I work hard and it's my sweat and it's my time, even if I love what I do, you should still get paid for your hard work," said Joe Lara, a former Parker employee.
"I had no money and I never thought in a million years I would have to tell my son, he's asking can we go here and I'm telling him no we can't because I don't have any money," Crowley said.
Store workers in Houston have filed a federal lawsuit claiming Parker violated the Warn Act, which requires employers to provide 60 days notice before a mass layoff.
In a notice to the state, Parker said it was "actively seeking capital, financing and refinancing" and that providing earlier notice "would have undermined its efforts" to secure that.
That reasoning could fall under an exemption in the Warn Act.
Meanwhile, Crowley said his heart aches for his former employees who are now left without jobs and medical insurance, and the customers that he loved so much.
"I really feel bad for the families who ordered product and never received it. I'm sorry, I did the best I could," he said.
Crowley said he is not involved in the lawsuit filed against Parker.
NBC 5 Responds has left messages with Parker School Uniforms as well as their bankruptcy attorney and the two investment groups tied to the company. We haven't heard back from any of them.