No Evil Foods, a vegan food company, laid off all its production employees after giving them an ultimatum last year about working through the pandemic

·2 min read
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No Evil Foods was criticized last year for encouraging workers to quit during a pandemic. Peter Dazeley/Getty Images
  • In March 2020, a vegan food company gave workers an ultimatum: work through the pandemic or quit.

  • On Friday, those who chose to keep working at No Evil Foods lost their jobs in a round of layoffs.

  • The company confirmed the layoffs to Insider and said it was ending its in-house manufacturing.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

No Evil Foods, a vegan food company with a socially conscience message, laid off all of its production employees on Friday, more than a year after it presented them with an ultimatum to work through the pandemic or lose their jobs.

In a statement provided to Insider, the North Carolina-based company confirmed the layoffs and said it is moving away from in-house manufacturing to a co-packing manufacturer.

"Our goal is to be a significant force for good in the food system with environmentally sustainable, socially conscious, plant-based foods," Mike Woliansky, co-founder and CEO, said. "For a company of our size to survive in the hyper-competitive marketplace, the co-manufacturing model will be required going forward."

No Evil Foods, which is backed by the same investors as Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, received backlash last year over its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On March 19, 2020, the company presented its production workers with an ultimatum: keep showing up for work and receive a bonus for perfect attendance, or leave.

Those who chose to leave could either quit and receive no compensation but retain the option of returning in the future, or resign and receive severance, with no option to come back. Employees were given 24 hours to decide.

Employees told Insider at the time that the ultimatum seemed antithetical to No Evil Foods' values and its stated mission statement: "To use food as a force for good." No Evil Foods uses socialist-inspired branding, such as one fake meat product called "Comrade Cluck." But the employees felt the company was placing economics over their safety.

Co-founder Sadrah Schadel told Insider at the time it was all the company could do given the circumstances.

"We wish we could do even more, but if we did, our family-operated company would end," she told Insider. "There would be no jobs to return to for anyone."

Weeks after employees spoke with Insider, the company offered its production employees a temporary raise of $2.25 an hour for 60 days.

No Evil Foods lost about 13% of its workforce last year after the ultimatum was given. But those who chose to stay and work through the pandemic still ended up losing their jobs in the recent layoff.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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