Wal-Mart abruptly fired 2,200 people Monday when it temporarily closed five stores due to plumbing problems.
The stores in California, Florida, Oklahoma and Texas will be closed for six months while the company affects extended plumbing repairs.
Wal-Mart workers were informed of their store's closing mere hours before being laid off, Pico Rivera, California deli department manager Venanzi Luna told Fox 31 Denver.
Everybody just panicked and started crying.The stores closed at 7 p.m. Monday.
Luna said her store, which employed more than 500 people, was closed because the employees had been advocating for higher pay starting in 2012 when workers led one of the first Black Friday protests.
The company denies the allegations, however, saying the decision to close the five stores was based on nothing more than the plumbing issues.
The retail giant has said it intends to reopen its closed stores as soon as repairs are completed, a company spokesman told Bidness Etc.
We understand this decision has been difficult on our associates and our customers and we aim to reopen these stores as soon as these issues are resolved.Pico Rivera's city manager Rene Bobadilla said this is the first time she's heard about Wal-Mart's plumbing problems, nor has the company applied for permits to make the repairs.
In Livingston, Texas, where 422 people lost their jobs, city officials say Wal-Mart hasn't applied for any permits there either.
Company officials there told city manager Marilyn Sutton the plumbing problems had been "ongoing and pervasive."
Another theory, gaining traction in the right wing blogosphere is that the closed Wal-Mart stores have some connection to Jade Helm 15, according to the Inquisitr.
Jade Helm is the code name for planned military training taking place in Texas between July and September.
These conspiracy theorists argue the stores are being closed to convert them into food distribution centers to house invading Chinese troops here to disarm Americans as Michelle Obama promised.
If that sounds a little weird to you, you're not alone.
Wal-Mart hasn't commented on these allegations. The retail giant, however, is trying to soften the blow to its employees, at least somewhat.
Full and part-time workers will given two months paid leave, giving them time to transfer to a different Wal-Mart location or find different jobs elsewhere. Full-time workers who can't find another Wal-Mart job might be eligible for severance pay. Part-time workers, however, aren't eligible.
Wal-Mart owns 4,500 retail stores in the US and employs some 1.3 million people.