Company buyout will leave at least 50 people out of work

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COLUMBIA - A buyout of a Columbia-based company will leave at least 50 people without a job in the new year.

Quest Diagnostics, a Secaucus-based diagnostic information provider, announced Tuesday that it will acquire Boyce and Bynum Pathology Laboratories, a clinical laboratory services business. 

Supervisors of Boyce and Bynum called employees Monday morning to tell them they will no longer be employed as of February 8, 2019. One employee said it was a shock to everyone. She asked to keep her identity confidential out of fear she'd lose her job earlier than the anticipated layoff. She said the company told employees on November 8 that they were selling only part of the company, and she claims management said it wouldn't affect employees.

"For them to wait another week or two and come back like, 'Never mind. We actually sold everything and everybody is losing their job,'" the employee said. "Why didn't you just tell us that at first? Why did you try to make it seem like we were all safe?"

The employee said her department is being eradicated completely, meaning 50 people will lose their jobs. She fears there are other departments who are in the same position. 

"There are people that work there that are in their 60s, and they're three or four years out from retirement," she said. "Now they're facing the fact that not only will they lose their job in February, but they're also going to lose their healthcare benefits."

She said she doesn't know her last day. She said the company told them February 8 was the estimated time of the acquisition, but that it could be a couple weeks before that. She said two or three weeks could make a big difference in how some manage their bills or what the time frame is for finding a new job.

The employee said Quest Diagnostics has already posted job openings for the Columbia locations as of November 21. When the employees were told of the acquisition yesterday, she said they weren't told of the applications.

"A few of us were thinking who knows how many people have already applied, and it's a little frightening to know that you're at the bottom of the list."

Employees of Boyce and Bynum who want to work for Quest Diagnostics will have to go through the formal application process. The employee said there is no guarantee of another job, and that many departments, like hers, will no longer be part of the company. 

Quest Diagnostics said it has no comment. KOMU reached out to Boyce and Bynum, but has not heard back.

The worker who asked to stay anonymous said the timing of the acquisition will hurt many employees.

"Everyone was saying, "I've already bought plane tickets to see relatives, and I've charged Christmas gifts on my credit cards for Black Friday,'" she said. "People made these decisions believing they would have a job in the new year to pay these debts off, and now they don't."

[Editor's note: This story previously stated employees were no longer employed as of February 8, 2018. It has now been updated to say they will no longer be employed as of February 8, 2019]