Walgreens Boots Alliance is laying off 504 corporate employees, according to a Sun-Times/NBC Chicago report. Per the report, spokesman Marty Maloney confirmed the layoffs Thursday, noting that most cuts representing about 10% of its corporate workforce will be at Walgreens' Deerfield headquarters or its Chicago office.
“None of these roles are based at our stores, microfulfillment centers or call centers. We’re grateful for the many contributions by the team members who will be leaving our organization, and are committed to supporting them as much as possible during this transition,” Maloney said, according to the report.
Maloney denied that the layoffs are connected to the company’s financial liabilities. It reported a $5.4 billion after-tax charge to cover opioid claims and litigation for the six months ending Feb. 28. In its settlements, the company has denied liability in regards to allegations of its role in the opioid crisis, the report said, pointing out that earlier this month, it settled with San Francisco, agreeing to pay the city $230 million over its sales of opioids.
Last week, Walgreens disputed a $642 million arbitration award for health insurance provider Humana in a fight over drug prices in a federal court. Walgreens called the sum “staggering."
CEO Rosalind Brewer said in a message to employees, obtained by the Sun-Times that the layoffs are among a series of steps the company is taking “to drive sustainable cost savings to help fuel investments for future growth.” Brewer did not refer to legal matters.
The report also said Brewer cited Walgreens's other cost-saving measures, such as “consolidating our Deerfield building office space, reducing consultant and contractor spending, eliminating non-essential projects, minimizing travel and canceling some events.”
Brewer thanked the workers for their contributions and said, “While difficult, these changes are necessary to streamline our business, unlock value and support our long-term growth. Together, we will continue driving toward our vision to be the leading partner in reimagining local healthcare and wellbeing for all,” the report said. Brewer also said laid-off workers would have counseling and mental health services available at the company.
Maloney confirmed Brewer’s memo, saying Walgreens is committed to keeping offices in Deerfield and Chicago. He added that all affected employees will have outplacement support and that severance is being offered. Postings at the blog TheLayoff.com said workers with at least three years of service were getting severance of two weeks per year, the report concluded.