When the nation’s sixth largest coal producer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, the majority of its 1,100 employees in Kentucky did not receive their final paychecks. In protest, five of its former coal miners blocked a train from leaving its plant in Cumberland. According to Murray State’s NPR Station WKMS, the company owes nearly $11.8 million worth of paychecks to its laid-off Appalachian employees.

After filing for bankruptcy to reorganize its operations, the coal producer set in motion its plans to sell its equipment and mines. In addition to the missing paychecks, the company still owes its employees about $1.2 million in retirement benefits through a 401(k) plan which it appears to have closed down. While the company’s employees in Wyoming reportedly received their wages, the majority of its Appalachian workers are still waiting.

Options for workers facing unexpected unemployment

Local government officials have admitted there is little that can be done to assist the laid-off employees in receiving their unpaid wages.

When an unexpected loss of income creates an insurmountable financial hardship, a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing may provide relief and an opportunity for a fresh start. A Chapter 7 filing may allow for the discharge of an unemployed worker’s debts. Paying off one’s debts over an extended period of time might be an available option through a Chapter 13 filing.

How a personal bankruptcy filing might help

Depending on the circumstances and the type of assets an individual wishes to keep, filing a petition for a personal bankruptcy may serve to discharge consumer debts and medical bills that may be impossible to pay back. It may also be possible to retain certain assets that have market value or equity, such as a car or residential home. Workable repayment plans may also be available. Overall, an unemployed or an under-employed individual who is unable to keep up with his or her monthly expenses may wish to consider seeking relief through a personal bankruptcy.