my company plans to absorb any government stimulus checks that employees receive for themselves

A reader writes:

I work in an administrative role at a national restaurant chain.

I just got off of a conference call with corporate in which they told us that if the U.S. government sends us the proposed stimulus checks due to Covid 19, they plan to absorb the money we receive by cutting our hours to reflect that amount. In other words, if each person receives a check for $1,200, $1,200 will effectively go back to the company. Is this legal?

Presumably it will be a sacrifice shouldered by lower level corporate employees, since executives likely make too much money to qualify for the government checks. (My partner lost his job due to service industry layoffs, so money is a concern during this time.)

Legal as far as I can see (assuming you’re non-exempt*), but despicable.

They would be directly undoing what that money is intended to accomplish and they’d be commandeering your government assistance for themselves. It’s disgusting.

Let’s name and shame this company. I will keep you fully anonymous, but people need to know what national restaurant chain is proposing screwing over their workers this way — and it’s highly likely that letting the public see their plan would quickly kill it.

Everyone: I’ve been talking with a reporter who’s writing about employers doing awful things during coronavirus and she asked me to provide her contact info to anyone else whose employer is behaving badly in relation to the virus, if you’re willing to speak to her. (She wrote this excellent article about naming employers who weren’t allowing remote work when they could.) She is happy to keep you anonymous if you’d like. You can contact her here:

Polly Mosendz
pmosendz (at)
phone number / Signal: 339-227-1657

Public shaming can work. Pushing back with a group of your coworkers can (sometimes) work.

We’re really seeing the worst of some employers right now.

* If you’re exempt, they can’t dock your pay based upon the number of hours you work in a given week. I’m assuming they’re talking about non-exempt workers here.

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 673 comments… read them below }

      1. Carl*

        Please tell us all what company this is. This company should be made to close there doors after wanting to rob their employees. Criminals! # your not good Americas

  1. JokeyJules*

    OP please share the name of your company so I can never spend my money there again. Everyone else, please do the same for that matter.

    1. Hills to Die On*

      I am in! I will never go there again and I also will share this All. Over. my social media.

      1. Hills to Die On*

        Not that it will come to that. This company will backtrack so fast it will make your head spin.

        1. RUKiddingMe*

          Even if they backtrack, if I find out who they are my money is already permanently gone ftom them.

            1. Diahann Carroll*

              This. I have a feeling I’m going to be cutting off quite a few companies after all of this is said and done. People in power truly don’t know how to act. It’s like they get promoted and instantly lose all sense of humanity.

              1. une autre Cassandra*

                Mentally listing the companies I will never again support due to gratuitously shitty behavior during the pandemic: one of my few small joys at the moment.

                1. MOAS*

                  Any examples of companies? Surprisingly I haven’t heard of many companies publically doing things save for peoples experiences writing here on AAM. I’d like to know so I can do so as well.

                2. CupcakeCounter*

                  Charter surprises me since the version in my area is giving away free WiFi hot spots for any home with a valid student ID until school resumes and no service technicians would be allowed inside houses for the duration. Not called Charter Communications anymore but still thought it was the same company. Must not be anymore.

                3. Perse's Mom*

                  Telecoms are a bit trickier as people may simply not have any other viable choice. It is, in part, why companies like Charter that historically have *terrible* customer service remain in business in the first place – there’s no alternative.

                4. Jenifer*

                  I work for a retirement company and we’re regulated up the wazoo. Within a week, my company managed to move 98% of our employees out of the office -including all of the customer service reps in the call center who have been dealing with huge call volumes. Charter could figure it out if they wanted.

                5. AKchic*

                  Hobby Lobby has *always* been horrible. I’m surprised people still shop there, but then I have to remember that in some areas, they are the only craft store in the vicinity, or people don’t care about their crimes (or agree with some of their decisions).

                6. Pomona Sprout*

                  JoAnn Fabrixs Michaels, and GameStop just got in trouble in a own near me (northern IL) for violating the governor’s order for all non-essential businesses to shut down if wfh is not an option. They all got served with cease-and-desist orders.

                  I think that there MAY have been misunderstanding in some cases about what constitutes “essential.” Or maybe just some excuses being made on that score. You can read all about it here:

                  In any case, as a crafter, there’s no way I can boycott both JoAnn and Michaels forever, unless I want to order 99% of my supplies online. Except for Hobby Lobby (which I’m already boycotting) and one rather snobby and expensive little independent yarn shop, those are the only craft stores around here. *throws up hands*

              2. Diahann Carroll*

                @Perse’s mom You are so right. Where I am, we only have two telecom providers, and they’re both garbage, so it won’t do any good to cut mine off – the one I have now, with all of its problems, is still infinitely better than the alternative.

            2. Ryan. B*

              Why isn’t anyone asking if this is legal or not? I have to visit the CEO house. Dont mess with my co-workers!

          1. darsynia*

            Agreed. This kind of behavior is why people will google ‘[Potential Employer] Coronavirus’ every time they look for a job for the next fifty years.

            1. many bells down*

              My sister works in marketing for a company that makes pool and spa parts. They’re refusing to let her work remotely and claiming they’re “essential”. Peak California right there *eyeroll dot gif*

          2. Liane*

            Yes. GameStop is learning The Hard Way right now that when people find out you treat your employees like manure, in a pandemic no less, (in GS’s case by insisting employees not only buy sanitizing supplies themselves but stay open in defiance of government mandates) they take their $$$ elsewhere.
            And GS is soon to learn that Backtracking ISN’T going to lure those customers and their $$$ back.
            These are lessons the OP’s company and the one that employs on the 3s’ husband (see their comments below) needs to learn The Hard Way as well.

              1. Admiral Thrawn Is Still Blue*

                Claimed to be essential services because they sell equipment people can use to work at home, but what they have is much higher end and expensive than is needed.

                1. Mongrel*

                  “Claimed to be essential services because they sell equipment people can use to work at home”
                  Well that wall of Funkopops and collectable figurines sure helps me through the day…

                  Jim Sterling did a piece about this on his Jimquisition piece this week on YouTube, it’s not just Gamestop though, other gaming stores are also trying trying the same lame justification.

              2. Missy*

                Claimed to be an essential business to force employees into work even when state and local governments orders lockdowns.

              3. New Jack Karyn*

                They’re keeping their stores open in areas that have ordered closures, claiming that they are an ‘essential’ service. Thus, putting their employees at risk.

              4. AJ von Tauffkirchen*

                I truly want to know the name of the restaurant company. I will boycott them forever. Added to the list of Hobby Lobby, Google, Menards, Game Stop, JoAnns…. risking others lives for profit is despicable and unacceptable.

                1. AKchic*

                  Michael’s at least has curbside pick-up, or you can order for at-home delivery.

                  Luckily, I really don’t *need* any yarn for my projects right now.

                2. TinLizi*

                  I have mixed feelings about JoAnns. They are also giving out free kits for people to make masks and they are collecting the finished masks to donate to hospitals. Does anyone know how they are treating their employees?

                3. Pam Poovey*

                  The home improvement stores are considered essential – if your toilet breaks you’re going to need more than your stockpile of TP to get by for a few weeks! lol. I work for a service that is deemed essential because we service a big box home improvement store, however I am lucky to be working from home.

                4. noahwynn*

                  Yeah, I’ll never shop at Menard’s again since they were caught price gouging. Sorry, but they’re large enough to know better and they’ve been caught before, so they really should know better.

                5. AnonfromJoAnns*

                  JoAnn’s employee here. Just a peon, not a manager or corporate mouthpiece. I love my job, and my manager has done all he can to allow employees to stay home if they don’t feel safe. We handed out mask kits until we ran out of elastic (because ONE person decided they needed everything we had. Yes, there’s hoarding in craft supplies too.) and are still giving out fabric and thread for masks. (And I was told by a nurse today that masks with fabric ties are better anyway because the elastic doesn’t hold up in repeated washings.) We are offering curbside pick up, and of course people can always order online for delivery.

                  Yes, I think it’s silly that we are classified as “essential” but I have also seen the demand at my store ramp up rather than slack off, so take what you will from that. Also, your boycotts hurt the employees more than it will ever hurt the corporation.

                6. Andraste's Knicker Weasels*

                  @Pam Poovey — Menards was caught price gouging in Michigan, selling face masks and some cleaning products with bleach for more than twice their actual price. When the state AG turned their attentions there, suddenly it was oh my gosh, look at this accidental mispricing!

                7. RedPanda78*

                  I don’t see anyone commenting in this thread that works at GameStop. While I don’t personally (I work in a hospital lab), my daughter does. Her store moved very quickly to a curbside model pickup effective this past Sunday, with no customers permitted in the store. And they had so much business/sales orders, their online ordering system crashed.

                  I had stated that GS’s move was a poor one and would emphasize their greed, as well as generate some very bad PR. They stepped back from their mistake quickly, though I’m not ready to forgive them just yet.

                8. Traffic_Spiral*

                  Gonna chime in on the support for JoAnns. People want to make masks. Besides, if nothing else, a new sewing project will keep lots of people from going stir-crazy.

                9. DR*

                  I would check Jo-Ann’s in there too, even with the promise of masks and material, some are finding there was limited if any anticipation of mask kits in some places, and I’m learning of issues with people getting sufficient supplies or support to be safe

                10. Debra Richardson*

                  I want to know too! That is just flat wrong & can not believe any company would, in essence, steal from their employees for their own financial gain during such a horrific situation as this! Wouldn’t wish this virus on no one, those making decisions such as this need to remember…NO ONE is immune to this virus & it doesn’t make a damn how much money you have. Do the right thing!!!! That is just totally wrong, very tacky & they should be incredibly ashamed! Please, let me know if you find out which restaurant company this is. I will NEVER darken their doorsteps again!

              5. Jojo*

                A stimulus check would go to the employees home. The employer would have no way of knowing who get one or when. It does not go to the employer. Many waitstaff are min. Their parents will get 500 for them. Minors do not get checks with their name on them. Plus, it will come out at tax time. Sew

                1. David Jaques-Watson*

                  Another version of this scam has the employer pre-emptively cutting wages by the amount thet expect the govt will pay their workers. That’s without knowing if the worker received their cheque or not!

                2. Shely*

                  This will not get taxed at tax time. The White House has already said it’s a tax free stimulus.
                  If you read the article, it explains that a company knows how much they pay you so they know if you’re getting a check or not.

            1. KoiFeeder*

              GameStop sent me a damn email advertising a sale that I’d have to enter a brick-and-mortar store for.

              1. PhyllisB*

                Pam, you are correct about home improvement/hardware stores being classified essential. One of my daughters works for one, and her boss used the toilet explaination when he was talking to his employees. HOWEVER, this company is doing it right. They are having to reduce work hours because they have to close earlier, but they are raising everyone’s pay $2.00 an hour to make up for it. Now this is a place that cares about their employees.

              2. Megan*

                I don’t know if you realize that not everyone has been mandated to stay at home and that the auto-ads you were referring to were probably set up months months ago with a media co. that is probably working from home now and never bothered to cancel the promo.

            2. Relentlessly Socratic*

              Oh, Crud I ordered from them yesterday. I wish I’d thought to check them out :(

            3. Warm Weighty Wrists*

              This one makes me particularly sad because I have had so many good experiences with GameStop employees over the years. They are friendly, enthusiastic about gaming, knowledgeable, helpful, and have never once made a comment of any sort about me being both a woman and a gamer. I want to give them my money for new games while we chat about Dragon Age! It’s terrible that GameStop is failing to treat them like the treasures they are.

              1. Mongrel*

                I think it’s fine to separate your experiences with the employees from the actions of corporate

            4. Red 5*

              This. I already was in a mood to never forgive Gamestop for what they did to ThinkGeek and its employees but this is so fast past the line that they’ll never see a cent from me ever again and I’ll go out if my way to explain why to anybody who will listen.

              I’m sorry for their employees if they go under, but they already were dying and this should be the nail in their coffin.

            5. Pittsburgher*

              A Game Stop in Pittsburgh tried to claim they were an essential business and stayed open after non-life sustaining businesses were ordered to be closed. The state found out and pulled their business license. They proceeded to promptly shut down all remaining stores for now after that happened. They learned their lesson.

              1. Beanie*

                They did the same thing in Toronto. They also told their customers that if the police came by, they were to tell law enforcement that EB Games was an essential service.

              2. Maki*

                No they haven’t. They’re telling employees in Massachusetts to use plastic bags as gloves and come back to work.

          3. Richard Hershberger*

            This is the beauty of national restaurant chains: Literally none are indispensable to my happiness. When my tween daughter announced that she would no longer eat at Chick-fil-A because of its reprehensible policies, we stopped going there. I was simultaneously ecstatic that I had raised her right and ashamed that I had allowed myself to be seduced by their above-average food and excellent indoor playgrounds. Fortunately, there are no shortage of alternatives who, while they undoubtedly don’t stand up to real scrutiny, at least are not as floridly abhorrent.

            So it will go with this loathsome organization, should it turn out to be one I formerly patronized.

            1. Amanda*

              You are an awesome father. Thank you for raising the kind of human being we NEED, especially now. I’m making a black list and a white list of companies based on how they act during this crisis, and how quickly they provided a solution to the problem of not being able to offer regular service. There is NO business that is worth my money if their structure is built on taking advantage of their employees.

              1. RUKiddingMe*

                If that ends up being something you can upload I’d love a copy when it’s complete!

              2. AJ von Tauffkirchen*

                Thank you. I have also begun my lists. And I’m always about sharing why I do, or do not support a company.

              3. Debra Richardson*

                Oh Amanda! I would really love a copy of your list. This is an incredibly hard time for everyone. It’s horrible lack of compassion for others! Thankfully it seems so few compared to so many other great company’s who stepped up & are willing to do anything they can. These are the companies who I will remember & support now & in the aftermath of this devastating time. I am an ICU nurse who has been grounded because of breast cancer. I feel so useless sitting @ home knowing I have the experience to help & can’t. I want so badly to be on the frontline with the rest of my coworkers & do anything & whatever I can to help. I know they are busting their butts & doing everything possible to give these patients the best care & every oz. of comfort that is humanly possible! I am immunosuppressed & have not left my house in over 3 weeks. Because I know every little thing anyone can offer can & will make a big difference. I want to help so bad, but don’t want to become one more person they will end up having to care for! You keep commenting good people! It is encouraging & charges many others batteries By just knowing others care & you have their backs!

            2. Shirley Keeldar*

              You are so right, and I also love the phrase “floridly abhorrent” very very much.

            3. Kimberly*

              You are a great Parent.

              Just want to say one of their lesser-known horrible policies is to be dishonest about the use of peanut oil in their food. If someone asks something along the lines of “My child is allergic to peanuts is your food safe?” they will say yes and not inform the person that they use peanut oil. Technically certain peanut oil is considered medically safe by the FDA because it isn’t supposed to have the protein that causes the reaction but has still landed me in the hospital. NOT THEIR CHOICE TO MAKE.

              1. Not Rebee*

                I hate Chik fil A as much as the next lesbian, but as a fellow peanut allergy sufferer… all their boxes and packaging says they use peanut oil in their food. I know, because I about had a heart attack the first time I saw the note on the box, and after googling I discovered that this heart attack is something of a rite of passage. This was before I gave them up because they’re jerks. So, they are pretty open about using the fancy FDA peanut oil

              1. Jen S. 2.0*


                CfA has not gotten a dime out of me in YEARS.

                I don’t craft, so I have no excuse to avoid Hobby Lobby, but I hope to actively avoid them the minute I need yarn.

              2. Quill*

                I didn’t have any in my area of the state until recently so they’ve never made a cent off me. :)

          4. Zombeyonce*

            I really hope that “What specific things did you do to support and empower your employees during the coronavirus crisis?” becomes a standard question asked by people when they are interviewing at a company from now on. I know I will be asking it next time I look for a job and listening very carefully to how specific the answers are, versus vague platitudes.

            1. ReadyPlayer3*

              It’s going to be a question I ask from now on for sure. My current company was fairly great to employees but refuses to let us work from home even though we can. We’ve been told 1) It would be unfair to the field works, 2) to move into empty office to social distance in the office and don’t let anyone come into your office, and 3) you are not any further exposed to the virus going from home to the office and back home than if you were just staying home. I understand they want to continue providing a paycheck to the crews but seriously.

        2. Hills to Die On*

          This was my first thought, but I might wait a couple of months before I do that. I don’t want the employees of this company to suffer and get laid off before they have the opportunity to find other jobs.

          1. Chupa*

            Be prepared for vague platitudes.
            First rule about fight club is…….. we don’t talk about fight club.

      2. Eric Post*

        First of all if you’re exempt, they can dock you an entire week. But they can’t if you work any part of it.

        Second, they could simply reclassify everyone as non-exempt. Any job can be classed as non-exempt.

        1. The bread burglar*

          No they cant. There is guidelines as what classifies as exempt and non-exempt by government standards. Alison posts them periodically.

          1. Zillah*

            I could be wrong and IANAL, but I thought those only went one way – you can’t classify people as exempt if they don’t meet the threshold for it, but you’re not required to classify them as exempt if you don’t want to – if you want to pay them overtime, the government isn’t going to tell you that you can’t.

            1. Jadelyn*

              This is true – HR professional here. A company could, if they wanted, have all its employees up to and including the CEO classified as non-exempt and pay them OT. It’s just generally a terrible idea to have high-level folks be non-exempt because of how many hours they work, so companies take advantage of exempt status wherever they can.

              The exemption guidelines ALLOW employers to classify some employees as exempt, but they don’t FORCE employers to do so.

    2. Root beer float*

      Is it possible we’re interpreting this wrong? Maybe the company is already paying its workers their normal wages despite not having enough work for them to do, which would be generous and appropriate. In that case if the workers are getting an income from somewhere else one month, maybe they don’t feel as much obligation to pay wages when there’s not much to do. It could still mean they’re doing good overall trying to guarantee people’s wages despite not enough work.

      1. TootsNYC*

        it doesn’t matter; that’s not what the stimulus is supposed to do.
        We should let Nancy Pelosi know, so they can add in that any employer who does this will forfeit every dime of any support the business might receive.

        1. You're looking at this wrong*

          Most of the folks I know who work in restaurants are laid off. Here’s a place keeping it together.

          If a company cuts people’s hours that means they are losing money on those employees working. If they weren’t losing money they wouldn’t cut anything.

          So this restaurant is keeping folks working and losing money. They hear that the employees have a chance to get funds elsewhere (the stimulus) so they say “hey, if you can get funds elsewhere, we’d like to send you home because we are losing money for every hour you work here. Anyone who didn’t get stimulus, we’re going to continue losing money so you can weather this storm”

          This is their punishment for keeping their staff onboard and trying to make it work despite loses. They could have laid off and laid low, instead they get this outrage.

          To the OP who wrote that her stimulus will go directly to the restaurant – well no – unless they are forcing you to work those hours then it doesn’t. Normally you give service they give money. If they don’t get service they don’t pay money. There’s no gain unless you are forced to work for no pay.

          Lastly – just keep your mouth shut and don’t tell people you got stimulus. How are they going to find out.

          1. Amanda*

            Yes, this was my take too. I get (now) that the money is for a different purpose. But in times of crisis, it’s hard for me to blame a restaurant for trying not to go under and still not let their employees down completely. And I wonder, would this outrage be the same if we were talking about a small mom-and-pop diner? How much of this is due to it being a large chain?

            1. A Poster Has No Name*

              The difference is the national chain has enough wealth and equity built into it that it could *gasp* take a tax-deductible hit to their profits/share price by funding their employees during the crisis, but a small business might not have access to and will go under if they shut down.

              1. Molly Coddler*

                Exactly. It’s NOT a mom and pop store. They make MILLIONS. Perhaps not the franchiser themselves and then the corp should cover them and make only hundreds of thousands of profits for one quarter. They should ask the corp, not take it from the workers.

          2. TomorrowTheWorld*

            Those poor multi-billion dollar industries need our sympathy, thoughts and prayers in this time of maybe losing a tiny edge from their obscene profit margins. Truly, they are heroes.

            1. AKchic*

              Maybe one of their rich CEO’s should start a GFM to offset the profit losses.

              I’m sure if the c-suite just tightens their belts and pulls themselves up by their bootstraps, they could weather this temporary set-back without hurting their employees.

                1. Salymander*

                  If the c suite just stopped ordering fancy coffee every day, they could afford to not rip off their employees!

              1. Parenthetically*

                Aren’t they supposed to have six months’ worth of savings set aside? Tsk tsk.

          3. YetAnotherAnalyst*

            Except that one of two things are true:
            A) The company made a business decision to keep folks on without the expectation of a stimulus check (perhaps to avoid the unemployment claims, perhaps because the cost of ramping back up when things improve is prohibitive, perhaps out of the goodness of their hearts, whatever), and accepted that loss… and now they’re trying to claw that back out of what the government is giving.
            B) The company made a decision to keep their employees on *because* they expected a stimulus check, and are getting the benefit of folks’ labor *now* (when, arguably, they should be home socially distancing) by subsidizing it from benefits intended for those employees

            Either way it’s morally the equivalent of paying your neighbor’s kid $50 to mow the lawn because they need some money, and then taking back $20 because they got a check from their grandma

            1. CmdrShepard4ever*

              I don’t think the analogy is correct. It’s still not the same but a closer analogy, is knowing the neighbor kids needs $50 a week to survive. You agree to pay them $25 each time they mow your lawn and you hire them to mow your lawn twice a week. Then after one week of them working for you (2*$25=$50), they tell you they got $25 from their grandma, so you say this week I only need you to mow the lawn one time for $25. You haven’t taken the $25 they got from their gma, you just decided not to use their services as much.

              The company is not asking the employees to work for free or to work and give the stimulus check to the company, but rather we can get by on less hours.

          4. Mr. Peanut is alive and well*

            Except that the purpose of the stimulous is not just to help those who are making less due to less hours, less tipping, less work. It is to also help those who have greater expenses having to put up a 2 week supply of food, buy medicine, greater spend on soaps/sanitizer/preventative costs. It is not to help corporations directly – it is meant to help workers/citizens directly. The companies will have their chance with the 2T bailout.

          5. Parenthetically*

            If this were a mom-and-pop, and they sat down with their beloved employees and said, “Look, you’re going to get this money, and we cannot afford to keep you on full time; what’s the least you can work given the stimulus money and still make ends meet?” I wouldn’t have a hard time with it. Lots of people are making hard choices right now. But this is a NATIONAL RESTAURANT GROUP.

          6. Niki Steffen*

            They are going to find out because they know how much you make and if you qualify for the stimulus check duh! Its not that hard to figure out lol, they know how much you make because they are the ones paying you so they assume you are getting a check. They explained part of this in the article as well if you paid any attention.

        2. Jojo*

          The large and small companies will get their own back in tax credits come October first when businesses do their taxes. That is a provision of the stimulus bill.

        3. Jojo*

          The large and small companies will get their own back in tax credits come October first when businesses do their taxes. That is a provision of the stimulus bill.

      2. Sally*

        I agree that it doesn’t matter. The OP said that their partner lost his job, so even though the OP is working, they need the money. I’m paying for my close friend’s groceries because she is a professional musician and also walks dogs. Now she hardly has any income. I’m working from home with my normal paycheck, so I’m paying my housecleaners who can’t come, and I’ll use any check I get from the government to buy more groceries or help my friend pay her rent.

        1. old curmudgeon*

          I am in the same fortunate situation, and I am doing the same thing with my privilege. I sent a large check to the owner of my favorite small local restaurant, which has had to suspend operations, to help them pay their employees.

          My mantra is “Those of us who can, should.” I can’t do it all, but I am doing all that I can.

          1. gotta get by*

            I have a note written to myself hung in my cubicle that I will, thankfully, not see for weeks while still being paid (and WingFH) – “You can’t do all the good in the world. But the world needs all the good you can do.”

            1. Bridget*

              I also love this and actually teared up a bit reading it. If I could paint or embroider I would make a wall hanging with this on it.

        2. LunaLena*

          I’m working from home with my normal paycheck as well, and I completely agree. I’m a firm believer that those of us who can afford it should help spread it around. If that means I eat out a little more or buy a few things that I normally wouldn’t, so be it, I’m sure my local businesses appreciate it. If I get a stimulus check, I’m planning on donating most of it to charity – I’m sure a lot of them are hurting right now because so many people simply don’t have money to spend.

          Some of my local restaurants have been sending out emails asking people to purchase gift cards to help support the restaurant and help keep their employees paid while they can’t be open, so I’ve been doing that as well. I would also consider doing that for other businesses I normally patronize and simply cannot work during the pandemic – massage therapists, hair salons, manicurists, etc – and sell gift cards.

          1. Rainy*

            I emailed my hairstylist last week, a few days before I found out they’d closed the salon til April, and said “look, I don’t know what’s going to happen, but you’re a contractor and I know you don’t get paid if you don’t work, so for as long as I can manage it, I’ll pay you the regular charges at the regular intervals”.

            I’ve already budgeted that money, and so far we are doing okay. I’d do the same thing if we had a housecleaner.

        3. Zombeyonce*

          All if this! My husband and I are very lucky to both have kept our jobs during this, but his company laid off some workers and may lay off more (like him) and cut everyone’s salary going forward to stay afloat. We’re also still paying full tuition for 2 kids for daycare for next month even though it’s closed so it can to pay teachers and we can keep our spots when it does reopen.

          We desperately need that money even though we’re employed and I’ll need it all the more if he gets laid off. If my company tried to cut my salary to take it the stimulus money, I’d be livid.

          1. TootsNYC*

            This is a serious point: The government’s idea of being paid back (for those who make enough) is that it comes back over 3 or 4 years.

            That’s because they expect the financial damage to linger.
            If this company claws back that money, they’d by god never lay anyone off–and they can’t promise that.

        4. No name this time*

          My relative has been unable to find a good job in their profession due to age discrimination. The relative and spouse have been working lower paid hourly jobs and were starting to go under before this hit. They are not working but are being paid through the end of next week. Another relative and I plan to give them our stimulus checks since we are retirees with sufficient income (although the pot of money I’ve designated jokingly as my nursing home fund has taken a hit) and we will be saving someone’s home.

          1. Ell*

            Please ask relative to check with mortgage lender/landlord about delaying payment or reduced payments. There are other funds available through United Way, LIHEAP and some guilds or associations. You might need the cash later for something harder to cover, like car repairs. Good luck and thanks for looking out for others!

      3. darsynia*

        The thing is, even if that’s the case, if the government wanted to relieve the companies themselves, they’d have sent the check to companies (and probably are, in some instances), not the workers.

        The money seems to be intended for things like rent and other bills that don’t just stop just because business is slow. Having the employer absorb it is not what it’s for.

        1. TootsNYC*

          And if a random employee ends up with an extra $1,200, because they didn’t lose their job at all, guess what they’ll do with it? Spend it, probably! In a way that benefits the economy.

    3. Amanda*

      Umm. I guess I’m misunderstanding the purpose of this government help or the employer’s intention (not American). Isn’t cutting their hours according to what they receive a good thing regarding social distancing and self quarantine? Seems to me it allows people to stay home without cutting into their money. Can someone explain where I went wrong?

      1. krysb*

        You’re not wrong about the intention, but, see the reality is usually quite different. Most of the businesses that will receive stimulus checks will probably lay off their employees or cut their pay, regardless, then when rehiring starts, wages will be suppressed. Unless they are mandated to use the money for employee benefit, they probably won’t.

      2. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

        But not their pay. They’re planning to recoup some of the money they’ve lost due to the pandemic by reducing their payroll expenses in the amount that their employees get for stimulus. So the public won’t actually get a benefit because the money will just be replacing money that the employer took by reducing the hours. It’s claiming the monetary benefit for themselves and denying it to the individual who is the intended recipient.

      3. Alex*

        This is “stimulus” money – it is supposed to give the people money to spend at the (then re-opened) shops and restaurants after the crisis is mostly over – to stimulate the economy and buy products from shops.

        If the restaurant chain is eating the money for itself it is only trying to improve it’s own business situation, but none of the other places around where the employees live is getting a stimulus – thus defeating the purpose.

        1. Amanda*

          Ah, that makes sense. I guess I missed the stimulus part completely, and went to just regular government help, since that’s what my country is doing for hourly and retail workers.

          1. TiffIf*

            “Regular government help” is not really a thing that exists in the US for most people.

      4. Librarian of SHIELD*

        What we’re talking about here is Demand-Side economics. It’s the theory that economic growth and development is stimulated by high demand for products and services. In a situation like we’re in right now, with people staying at home and a lot of people not getting their usual salary, demand goes down because people aren’t buying things. So you give individual consumers extra money they didn’t have before in hopes that they’ll spend it on goods and services, increasing demand and causing companies to hire more workers to fill that demand.

        There are also plans in the works for Supply-Side economics, which involves providing support to the businesses that supply the goods and services that customers demand. But that’s separate. Some of the businesses who would make a plan like this to absorb their employee’s stimulus money will also qualify for their own stimulus money. In that case, they’re double dipping and causing all the stimulus money to go to the supply-side and none to the demand-side.

        Does that help?

    4. Kathy*

      Please tell! Where I work is associate with a labor organization benefits’ office with some restaurant persons. Shame with all the social contact not being allowe right now – since normally unions can put inflatable rats
      in front of the establishments.

    5. Damian*

      it hasnt even done yet, why dont people find out from other sources, like I dont know, from the CEO of the company? Smh ‍♂️

      There’s always 2 side of the story, get all the facts before you start getting your pitch forks!

      1. kathlynn (Canada)*

        Because CEOs lie. I’ve seen on redit multiple people saying that their employer releases a public statement, then tells their employees that they were lying to so. E extent a D some/all of their work force is still required to come in for work like usual. And that if they tell anyone (IE the media) they will be fired.

      2. CL Cox*

        Do you really think a CEO is going to admit they’re screwing over their employees? It’s pretty easy to verify information; in many cases, there have been emails or memos issued (see: GameStop and Hobby Lobby), in others there have been multiple employees verifying the instructions they were given.

        1. Wild70schild*

          Well according to a news article I read on this the company had set out a memo to all employees although they weren’t sure it these two employees were referring to the same company. But the did mention seeing some on the ask a manager sight about the same thing.

    6. Dick Nelson*

      I would want to get a corroborator before a full on public shaming. We can all see the things Hobby Lobby is saying or which businesses are risking their employees health by remaining open. But I don’t understand how a company benefits by cutting hours. If it has been determined that this job requires 40 (or however many) hours to get certain tasks accomplished then cutting hours is counter productive. Please get a corroborator before you publicize

      1. CL Cox*

        Not all jobs require 40 hours if there aren’t as many customers. Many places have been forced to cut hours because of fewer customers/orders/deliveries. A lot of restaurants and retail places are known to cut hours to punish employees.

    7. CL Cox*

      A couple of friends are maintaining lists of which companies are not acting in their employees’ interests and which ones are going above and beyond. Places like GameStop, Hobby Lobby, and the like may think they’re protecting their assets, but they’re just shooting themselves in the foot.

    8. Swarm Beady*

      That’s a bit of a conundrum. If there’s an effective collective boycott of this company, everyone’s job is at risk. The company is behaving horribly, but not sure how not spending money there will help the most impacted workers.

    9. Hans*

      I would not share this if I was the OP due to these comments. The point is to get them to rethink their plan, not destroy the business where she is employed and leave her without a job.

    10. Marc Prevost*

      They should definitely share the name of that company, this is such BS, the stimulus is their for people to get a little ahead, not for the company.

    11. Wayne*

      I sure will do that if I new the company that would happen they don’t want there name out here because they know it would cause them to go out business somebody there need to out name restaurant.

    12. Dannyy*

      I agree, name the company so they can be boycotted and then hopefully bankrupt in a year or so, whomever the A****** was that concocted that alleged scheme should be the first one a Senate Sub committee should be questioning.

    13. Jordan R Kidd*

      Oh you can bet your bottom dollar as soon as I find out who this is I’ll never step foot in their place and I don’t care if they are the last place with available food!! Because this is so wrong on so many levels!!! Out them plz!!!

  2. kittymommy*

    Oh I want to know the name of this place! I eat out a lot (well not now. Now I’m eating a lot of peanut butter and takeout) and I would have no problem sharing this shaming!

    1. Lynca*

      I travel a lot and have to eat on the road so I definitely want to know what chain is not treating their workers right/doing shady stuff. Don’t want to support them.

      1. Annony*

        Unfortunately, I think it might be a shorter list if you ask which chains are treating their employees well.

        1. Veronica Mars*

          We actually did this – asked on the town Facebook who is treating wait staff well. I was really pleasantly surprised by how many (local, not chain) businesses are going out of their way to support their staff.

          Increased hourly wages, paid sick leave / increased sanitation / social distancing procedures in effect. Changing business model to “Family style” casseroles with bigger delivery radius. We’ve just been ordering delivery all week from those places to try to keep them in business.

          1. CupcakeCounter*

            This is what I want to do (the delivery part since I am WFH full time while trying to get my kid to do something other than watch TV all day long) but we live on the cusp of rural and can only get 3 places to deliver. Did take out a couple times for places I can pay online most don’t have a place to leave a tip and they are not accepting cash right now (I asked where their tip jar went).

            1. Veronica Mars*

              I also live in a fairly rural area, but many restaurants have expanded their delivery radius to try to drum up business, so we get way more options now!

              They also have been taking credit card payments over the phone and allowing me to specify a tip on the card, so that we can remain completely contact free (They leave the bag on the porch and then call me to let me know its been delivered. Which is a little unnecessary because my dogs know, oh do they know).

              I’m not really saying this to make you feel bad if you can’t contribute. Actually, the opposite – so many restaurants are being creative and finding ways to help you help them, that if they aren’t willing to do these things I think you’re absolved of responsibility to help.

          2. Sam.*

            Yeah, I really want to help the local places that are trying to support their employees. I don’t normally order takeout/delivery, but I’ve been thinking about ordering food once a week from one of those restaurants in my neighborhood, and I’ve bought gift certificates for my salon, etc. so they can have a bit of cash flow in the interim. Not sure what else to do.

            1. Liz*

              I’m doing the same re: ordering takeout once a week, and tipping generously. While I can’t do it more often than that, i can afford once a week. many of the local restaurants by me also are now allowed to include alcohol, so this week will be the local Basque rewstaurant and sangria!

            2. Veronica Mars*

              I think if we all do what we can, however little that is, everyone will be OK. No sense in going broke trying to keep others from going broke.

              We figured that its basically the same price for us to get delivery (and eat leftovers for lunch) as it is for us to pay to have groceries delivered this week, so it worked out for us. It was going to be an expensive week either way unfortunately.

  3. For Alison*

    Alison – you probably want to change her email to be pmosendz (at) so it can’t be picked up by bots.

    1. Uncle Bob*

      I assure you that bots and the people who write them figured this out about 20 years ago.

  4. Sir Freelancelot*

    Heck yeah, these companies DESERVE to be ashamed and publicly shamed! And I promise they’ll stop receiving money from me!

  5. juliebulie*

    Yes, I really want to know who this is. I dine out more than I should, and have been getting takeout lately, but I don’t want to spend a nickel with these people.

    1. Max*

      I agree !!! If it wasn’t for there workers and the public that dose business with them they wouldn’t have a a business !!!! Maybe there stimulus package should go to the workers.

  6. Jam Today*


    Please tell us the name of the restaurant chain. Nobody that does this gets one dime of my money.

  7. Brett*

    This is even more despicable because not everyone will receive the check in the full amount. So, they will be flat out taking income away from some people.

    And cutting hours means that corporate will make their bottom line look better while they will leave local store managers to 1) deal with explaining to employees that their hours are being cut because they received a stimulus check and 2) figure out how to run the store with everyone’s hours cut.

    1. TiffIf*

      Depending on which version actually makes it through to be signed it might not go to anyone who didn’t file taxes in 2019-which could very well include low-wage workers who for whatever reason did not/could not file taxes.

        1. Brett*

          (Though they still have time to file. I have been advising friends who are low wage or cash workers to stay working on filing for 2019 just in case.)

        1. Now I'm Confused...?*

          I agree, since 2019 couldn’t be an expectation until a couple weeks from now. I hear it was extended, but even if it weren’t they’re not due until April, and even though employers have to send stuff in January many banks get to take longer to send stuff out so some people are just now starting to be able to.

          By filing in 2019, do you mean the *paperwork* was done in 2019, for *2018* taxes? Just making sure we’re measuring our years with the same ruler here, I’ve only ever known folks to call the filed year by the year it was filed *for*, which would make the most recent completed taxes for a normal household the 2018 ones right now.

  8. Lisa B*

    Wait, HOW can it be legal? Companies are required to pay for all hours worked… this company is planning to dock their employees’ hours, even though the hours were worked. I am trying to figure out how this is ok- OBVIOUSLY not from the ethical/moral/human/what-the-hell-is-wrong-with-you standpoint, but how would it be legal???

    1. OdoLicious*

      I read it as they will actually cut hours worked – deliberately short staff the establishment so they aren’t paying that amount in wages.

    2. PollyQ*

      I believe their plan is to actually cut the number of hours that employees work, not have them work unpaid.

        1. Lisa B*

          Ohhhhh got it. Ok. Yes, that’s ridiculously terrible, squarely in the not ethical/moral/human/you’re-all-giant-jerks category.

        2. WMM*

          They would then qualify for unemployment for that period, right? Doesn’t make it appropriate, but does offer some leeway to the shorted employees.

        3. Loose Seal*

          And then they wouldn’t get tip money too. Assuming it’s a type of restaurant where one is supposed to tip.

            1. Jennifer Thneed*

              LW said that THEY work an administrative job at a national restaurant chain. All the actual restaurant workers probably are tipped.

          1. Old and Don’t Care*

            I guess I assume the restaurant is going to be doing very little tip generating business. Restaurants around here are laying off people in droves. Doesn’t take much wait staff to provide carry out/drive through.

      1. Cathie from Canada*

        Because god forbid one of THEIR employees should end up with a little more money than they DESERVE!
        Why, they might get to thinking of themselves as someone SPECIAL when they’re obviously NOT – at least, in the opinion of their employer.

    3. JustMyImagination*

      Interesting take! I read it as they were cutting hours so instead of working 40 hours a week they’d cut people to 20 hours.

      If you’re way of reading it is correct, then I think it would be illegal.

    4. Aquawoman*

      Is this what she meant? I was having trouble figuring it out–e.g. presumably, they already schedule people based on the company’s needs, so how did it make sense to understaff their restaurants and why did it depend on government checks anyway? But this explanation makes more sense and I think you’re right would be illegal.

      1. boo bot*

        I think it’s not intended to make financial sense for the company – it’s a way to overrule the government’s attempt to help their workers.

        I think they do mean they’re going to cut hours to make sure everyone makes $1200 less – it will be bad for everyone, but the company is willing to take a hit to themselves in order to punish their own workers and/or make a point.

        That said, this bill hasn’t passed yet. If the OP (or someone else working there) can name this employer, some publicity might help get provisions in place to stop companies from doing this kind of thing.

    5. fposte*

      I’m having the same trouble figuring this out. Either people are going to be unpaid for hours worked, which would be illegal, or they’re going to deliberately understaff themselves, almost certainly hurting their revenue. So even before the PR disaster I don’t really get it.

      1. Fikly*

        Possibly the notion is that they will need less staffing if they are doing less business than usual right now?

        Or else they think they a temporary understaffing will cost them less than paying their employees.

      2. PollyQ*

        A note that LW is in an administrative role, not actually working in a restaurant. It’s possible this is limited just to office workers.

        1. fposte*

          Could be, and that would definitely affect revenue less; however, my suspicion is that the reason the OP wrote in is because it was for all workers. I’ll look for upcoming articles from Polly to see if there’s a clearer picture there.

      3. costume teapot*

        Have you ever worked retail? For some reason, corporate offices always seem to think some variation along the lines of, “Well, the store isn’t making more money than they did last year, so let’s have fewer staff run the store. Then there will be no one to help the customers, clean the store, AND stock it properly, and we will DEFINITELY make more money than last year!” Same shit, different toilet to me.

        1. fposte*

          Ah. I won’t say that makes sense, because it doesn’t, but I now see how this behavior could fit into a larger pattern. Sheesh, retail.

        2. noahwynn*

          Yup, worked retail for years and payroll budget is usually a percentage of sales. When it is slow, managers always wanted to send people home early.

    6. Snow globe*

      The ONLY way this could make sense to me* is if this company is closed due to Coronavirus but has been paying its employees based on their regular schedules. (There are some larger firms that are paying employees, at least for a few weeks, even though they aren’t working. Disney World, for example). So they figure they’ll cut the paid hours for one week, the employees are still ‘whole’ – making the same as before due to the government check, but company expense of paying people for not working is lowered.

      *makes sense in that I could understand the logic, but still not really ethical.

      1. TooTiredToThink*

        Agreed. If they are paying people for not working, I can see why they thought this might be a way to keep themselves afloat a little bit longer but….

  9. A Simple Narwhal*

    “Legal…but despicable”

    I can’t believe how horrible this company is planning to be. I mean, I sadly believe it to be 100% true, it just shocks me that they’re being this overtly terrible. This is some movie villain nonsense.

    I hope they get shamed to hell and leave their poor employees alone.

  10. NewCEO*

    Absolutely name and shame. I’m tired of greedy corporations taking advantage of their employees, ESPECIALLY in times like this.

  11. christine*

    The worst thing about this letter is that I have seen tweets from employees at multiple companies that plan to do this. What the disease is doing to people who get sick is horrifying. The way that the raw, unmitigated greed and contempt for human life of the ruling classes has been laid bare is a close second. So many people in power, who have more money than they could ever possibly spend, will let millions die and millions more suffer just to protect their bank accounts. It’s appalling beyond words.

    This is something to contact your elected officials about, by the by. Since the UBI checks haven’t been put into law yet, there’s a possibility that legislation could make this illegal. I already left messages this morning but it’s time for another round, it seems.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Will you forward those tweets to Polly? Her contact info is in the post. She can get in touch with those people and potentially expose it to a much wider audience.

        1. DecorativeCacti*

          There was someone on the subreddit r/legaladvice asking about this this week as well.

          This is not an isolated plan.

        2. Sandy B*

          Thank you Polly. You are exactly the reason the media and free press is essential to our country.

        3. Robot Cowboy*

          I troll the legaladvice reddit, and there’s plenty of other terrible employers with other terrible plans. The most notable I’ve seen is employers saying they’re going to furlough people for x weeks, and if the employees file for unemployment, they’ll be officially fired and lose all accrued service time, PTO, etc. Which is also probably legal in most places and utterly despicable.

          The legaladvice reddit usually bans people for DMing posters and for suggesting going to the media, but you might be able to talk them into making an exception in the current circumstances.

          1. A Teacher*

            Yep. There’s a physical therapy company–a very large multibillion dollar company that is large in the Midwest and on the East coast that “furloughed” their employees and is only guaranteeing their jobs for 8 weeks. If it goes on longer, they have to reapply for their jobs. The same company that made tons of money on the backs of their employees for the last 20 years. Sad.

              1. Me too!*

                YES! I actually have friends that work there too. so they are furloughing some of the PTAs and other employees and some of the employees they reduced pay by a percentage and are micromanaging the work from home the employees are now doing. The employees with reduced pay and hours (30 from 40) were told they can’t file for unemployment to make up the difference.

                ATI Physical Therapy

        4. Free Meercats*


          I know you’re mainly looking for the nefarious, but do you also want examples of employers that are doing it right?

        5. Matilda Jefferies*

          Polly, I’ve never heard of you until just this minute, and I’m now a fan for life. Thanks for doing this.

        6. Database Developer Dude*

          Polly, will you also take shout-outs when companies are doing the right thing with respect to the coronavirus? My employer’s response is stellar.

          1. AnonEMoose*

            Mine, too. Everyone is on mandatory WFH until at least the middle of April, and they’re allowing people to take time off if they’re sick or caring for others without making them use PTO.

  12. Cats and Bats Rule*

    Yes, please name this company! They don’t deserve our business if they pull this crap on their employees.

  13. RandomPoster*

    I’m adding “How did you handle the covid-19 emergency at your company; what did you do to protect and help your employees?” as a future interview question.

    It’s unbelievable how many companies/people aren’t doing the right thing.

    1. EmKay*

      Oh, it’s absolutely believable. This is nothing, matter of fact. Remember the Radium Girls? That wasn’t so long ago, and companies today are only better because they *have* to be, by law.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        The Radium Girls is the ultimate case of a company behaving in the most despicable manner possible. I have had zero faith in companies since I heard that story many years ago.

        1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

          The worst part of the Radium Girls, is that the first wave of Radium Girls successfully prove radium is dangerous around 1920. Then, there are multiple waves of radium dial painting companies, that have their employees use radium paint with no training or protections, up until the 1980s. SIXTY YEARS LATER and they are still doing the stuff that killed women during World War I, employees sick left and right.

          1. High School Teacher*

            I read that book on Radium Girls and it was just so chilling. For anyone reading this – I recommend reading that book, it is excellent. And so tragic.

            1. A Teacher*

              I grew up in that area. The toll it took on the community was bad. I had family members directly impacted by this and even 100 years later its still very sad.

      2. Mel_05*

        Yup. And a lot of them will do anything they can to get around the laws.
        Not all. But enough.

      3. Oranges*

        There are a LOT of those stories btw. Shirtwaist fire. Leaded gasoline factory workers. Ribbon factory workers. More that I can’t remember off the top of my head.

        It’s almost like if businesses are unregulated they act badly….

        1. Elizabeth West*

          If we can ever get big money out of politics, that might help. I saw the oligarchy coming (though not the authoritarian kleptocracy) and everyone blew me off.

        2. comments on innovation*

          One thing I heard that has stuck with me: every business regulation has blood behind it.

          In other words, if there’s a law for it, it’s because a lot of people got murdered by a company that did this and didn’t care.

          1. Tidewater 4-1009*

            I’ve done a little work with medical/FDA regulations and my observations confirm this. Almost all laws happened because businesses didn’t do the right thing on their own. Sometimes laws were made because of individuals not doing the right thing too.
            The most famous medical case I know of is the Dalkon Shield. If you want some more horror, look that up.

    2. RVA Cat*

      Meanwhile some of them are. My employer (a large bank) has almost everyone work remote, has closed branch lobbies and is giving rank-and-file employees a bonus equivalent to the stimulus.

      1. Me*

        I think we should name the good companies to. I want to know not just where not to spend my money but where I should!

        1. SweetestCin*

          I agree with this entirely!!! I want to know who is behaving well without being forced to, and who is scheming to be a glassbowl behind closed doors in a legal, but horribly unethical, manner!

        2. Sharkey*

          My company has done a great job with communication and flexibility. And we’re on track (assuming things don’t go totally haywire with the economy long-term) to do a lot of hiring this year.

        3. Duvie*

          Absolutely! In the future I will only do business with companies that put their best effort into protecting their employees. Let’s all be elephants and remember which companies stepped up and which ones slithered away.

        4. Senor Montoya*

          Many of your local small businesses. You can share about them on any social media you use. Agree on publishing stories about the good guys too.

        5. Nerdy Library Clerk*

          Agreed. I want to know what companies are closed, but paying their employees or open and doing everything they can to protect their employees and offering sick leave and such to all of their employees. Because those are the companies I want to spend my money at if given the choice.

          I know REI, LL Bean, and Patagonia have closed their stores temporarily, but are still paying their employees. Kohl’s has also closed their stores and paying employees (at least for two weeks).

          Darden Restaurants is more mixed – they are providing sick leave to all employees (but probably not fast enough), and have some support for employees being disrupted over this. Their restaurants are doing curbside pickup across the country. It’s insufficient, but it’s still more than I’m aware of other chains doing.

          1. KTB*

            Starbucks closed almost all cafes (except for those near hospitals and first responders like fire stations) through the end of March and is operating drive-throughs only. All store partners are being paid for 30 days whether they work or not, and they have paid sick leave and PTO.

            1. Meg*

              Plus the partners who do decide to stay & work get a $3/hr raise. And every hourly partner gets a free food item every day, whether they work that day or not, whether they are taking the catastrophe leave or not. And 50% instead of 30% off of purchased items.

              1. Diahann Carroll*

                I can’t wait until this dies down and I can go back to Starbucks. Yeah, they’ve had some very public blunders over the years when it comes to their customer service, but I’ve always heard good things from their current and former baristas about how they were treated while they worked there. One of my former colleagues worked at a Starbucks while she was in college and they pretty much paid for her degree.

        6. une autre Cassandra*

          Absolutely yes. I want to do business with organizations that are doing the best they can by their employees and by the public.

      2. Anoning here*

        Yes, I am so pleased with what my company is doing, both for the public (I’m in healthcare) and for us.

        One example: everyone is remote right now, and we got told that if we are providing care for someone (kids/elderly) and their daytime care does not reopen before our office does, anyone in that situation can stay remote until they no longer have to provide care.

        That’s how you treat your employees right.

        1. CupcakeCounter*

          That’s how my company is right now as well. For the workers in our manufacturing plants, they immediately put together voluntary layoff packages with 100% of health benefits covered for a period of 60 days and all of the paperwork to immediately apply for unemployment. They also allowed people to work swing or odd shifts in order to care for children and still collect a paycheck.

      3. Code Monkey, the SQL*

        Mine is doing great too – they cancelled optional travel by the first week of March and said “work from home if you prefer,” which turned into 100% Remote by the end of the next week, even hiring classes! They’ve communicated policies every step of the way, acknowledged that it’s going to be harder to meet deliverables and that we need to be open about that, and frankly, I’m really glad I work for them.

      4. tink*

        My partner’s in tech, so he’s in the position of being able to WFH pretty easily, but his employer is ALSO being very understanding that some workers may not be as productive right now because they’ve suddenly also got to do childcare and aren’t just WFH because the weather is wretched or the plumber has to come.

        1. Liz*

          My company as well. its small, but we were told initially offices are open, BUT if you need to WFH you can. since most schools closed before the entire state went on lockdown. and they are understanding if you need to help your kids with school, run errands for someone, etc. as well. which is nice.

      5. RVA Cat*

        I don’t have official capacity to name them but they’re mostly in the South and are in the middle of a merger….

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I already added a similar question to my form, but I like your wording better so I’m gonna steal it, if you don’t mind. :)

    4. Lizzo*

      Would also add to the question list for those current college kids interviewing for first jobs over the next couple years: “How did you spend your time during the pandemic?”

      If the answer is anything other than “stayed home” or “worked the frontlines in healthcare/first response role/other role that was providing vital services”, DO NOT hire that person. They are selfish and lack good judgment.

      Looking at you, spring breakers hanging out on Florida beaches right now.


      1. Belle of the Midwest*

        I work for a university. Many of these college kids are spending their pandemic days taking classes and working remotely. I have appointments on my schedule thanks to them. We also have college students doing remote tutoring, mentoring, and study groups. I do get your point about spring breakers, but please don’t put down kids who are being productive in ways other than as first responders or health care.

        1. Lizzo*

          Yes, those are also perfectly acceptable things to spend time doing right now, because they can be done **at home.** I am sure there are other things, too. Things that can be done **from home.** That really is the main point here. There have been many college-age students interviewed on local and national news who are out and about, celebrating spring break, hanging at bars, etc., who have clearly stated, “I’m young and I’m healthy, if I get sick I’ll be fine.” Maybe it’s not the prevalent attitude of an entire generation, but it is an attitude that many of that generation hold, and it’s creating problems for the rest of society. Real consequences can be a good teaching tool.

          1. Multiple generations*

            There are sadly a lot of seniors doing similar things, just not on beaches and it’s not as popular to drag them on the news, so the videos aren’t going around.

            I’m horrified by the stories I’m reading about the block parties being thrown, complete with potlucks.

            1. Arts Akimbo*

              Yes, my 78-year-old mother holds this attitude. She’s in multiple high-risk categories, too. :-/

              1. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

                My 70something MIL is attending a potluck this week that, as far as I can tell, is a deliberate act of resistance among her other 70something friends. They all know each other because they became part of a club ca. 2010 that shared a common political inclination. All I can think is: y’all about to take yourselves off the voter rolls.

            2. nonegiven*

              In Oklahoma:

              At the same time, Stitt issued a ‘safer-at-home’ order, asking all vulnerable populations across the state to stay at home and only go out in public for the essentials until April 30. This includes adults over the age of 65 and vulnerable individuals with serious underlying medical conditions.

          2. MOAS*

            I think in every decade/generation, teens & twenty somethings think they are invincible. I certainly did back then.

          3. Mad Harry Crewe*

            I mean, the WHO and early reporting made a big mistake in presenting 80% of cases as “mild” without further explaining that “mild” in this case is a technical term that means “didn’t need hospitalization… but still got pneumonia that f’d up their lungs and they’ll never breathe the same again” – like, that’s a word that has a common meaning, and a lot of people took it at the common meaning. Heck, I made that mistake for a week or two, while I was trying to talk myself into leaving the house after the first local case.

            I’m not looking to defend people who are putting themselves and others at risk, but I think the greater failure here has been state and federal communications. Any individual action (good *or* bad) is a drop in the bucket compared to the influence our leadership could and should have had on the course of our collective response.

            You’re mad that kids were partying at the beach? Be mad the beach wasn’t closed.

            1. Nita*

              This. I can shake my fist at all the idiots that thought “oh it won’t be me, my vacation is still on” even when the writing was on the wall, but really it was the government’s job to close down all the airports to keep the idiots home. Just like they go after the idiots who want to drive drunk.

        2. Happy Lurker*

          My college and HS kids haven’t left the house except to walk the dog.
          They are annoyed with me for going to work in an essential industry and grocery shopping for my newly expanded 6 adult household.
          They are taking this much more seriously than their grandparents, who are out and about.

      2. MOAS*

        Am I right to think that this is one of the rare cases where saying “stayed home” would not be an answer that would hurt them?

        I’m not in a great position myself but I feel for those who are at the beginning of their careers. I was there not too long ago and I’m hopign that this go around will be easier . Just praying for the better.

      3. Database Developer Dude*

        That’s nuanced. Some of us have to go to work because we work on classified systems (think Government based security clearance).

      4. Aphrodite*

        This seems like a good place to do a shout-out for some of our local college students who began a new company they called Zoomers to Boomers, a free food delivery service. They will buy and deliver your grocery orders for free, no tips. You pay them only what the receipt shows. I wish I could shower gold coins down upon their heads for their brilliance and their caring:

    5. CorporateDroneLiz*

      I 100% agree with this, but will also add the caveat that I’ll trust an answer from staff level employees more over managers, executives, etc. I wouldn’t put it past some of these scummy higher ups to lie about how they handled this.

    6. asking for a friend*

      I emailed Alison about this today! I have seen on the internet that people will start doing this. I wasn’t sure if you should be tactful when asking or just ask outright? what’s the best approach?

    7. Dinopigeon*

      My friend is dealing with an employer who has responded poorly to the crisis (though not quite this poorly), and she plans to look for new work after it passes. She’s been adamant this will be her first question at an interview.

  14. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

    Please name and shame. I need to channel my anxiety into righteous tangible anger.

  15. Snarkus Aurelius*

    A few years ago, I had a boss who was obsessed with Ass in Seat employees. When I was at the tail end of my pregnancy, I asked if I could work from home until I delivered. She told me that home was for home and work was for work so if I wanted to work from home, I’d have to take a sick or vacation day. (Uh why would I ever do that? That’s working for free.)

    That same boss even went as far to complain that my coworkers and I weren’t in our offices from 9-5. As in, she complained when we had to go to off site meetings or legislative hearings or press conferences even those things were literally in our job descriptions. “You need to be in your offices working, not out and about.” She literally saw my coworker at a televised legislative hearing taking questions, and she still complained that he wasn’t at his desk. I’m not kidding.

    I don’t know what it was about this boss, but no one could penetrate her mindset, and I have no idea why.

    Before I had that boss, I never would have believed such stories. Now I believe everything.

    1. Archie Goodwin*

      I left a job for similar reasons. There was an expectation that I be in my seat at 9 sharp. We did have a 9 AM phone meeting every day, but I’d previously been allowed to take it at home and then drive in after. New management, new rule, and nobody ever gave me an explanation as to why.

    2. HoHumDrum*

      “As in, she complained when we had to go to off site meetings or legislative hearings or press conferences even those things were literally in our job descriptions.”

      I mean honestly Snarkus, any halfway decent employee really ought to have at least a few well-functioning clones or at least a hologram that can be sent out to perform work in two places at once. You with your single corporeal body sound like a real drain on the company.

      1. Snarkus Aurelius*

        It was by far one of the dumbest conversations I’ve ever had at work. My boss was complaining about my coworker not being at his desk, and I was pointing to the webcast of where he was speaking. She was still like, “Yeah but why isn’t he *here* where he’s supposed to be? He needs to be here.”

        I remember writing AAM about this problem because that boss kept complaining to me, but I didn’t know what to say. Then I reread my AAM question and realized how assinine it sounded so I never sent it.

        To this day, I wonder what Alison would have said or if she would have answered.

          1. Tidewater 4-1009*

            I used to see this growing up in a fundamentalist area. If I or anyone else tried to reason with a person who’s mind was already made up, this is what happened. They shut down, refused to hear what we were saying, and kept repeating themselves.
            It sounds like Snarkus’ boss was doing this. She had decided everyone should be there and closed her mind and her ears to any indication otherwise. I can’t imagine why though.

        1. comments on innovation*

          I suspect the answer might have been “your boss sucks and isn’t going to change”. But there’s a lot of bosses who have suddenly seen the light on teleworking now that it’s their lives on the line and not just The Little People’s.

        2. Coffee Bean*

          I would have been so tempted to say “I didn’t realize it is a job requirement for us to be in two places at the same time.”.

        3. whingedrinking*

          “Boss, he’s not here because he’s doing his job. If he were here, he wouldn’t be working.”
          I’m still imagining that one would make a *whoooosh* noise, though.

      2. Archie Goodwin*

        Oh, for Pete’s sake. You can’t be serious – none of that stuff is even remotely possible.

        Astral projection, on the other hand…

        (Removes tongue from the vicinity of cheek.)

        1. TiffIf*

          “If it looks like I’m sleeping at my desk-I’m not–I’m manifesting at a legislative hearing.”

    3. Mel_05*

      I had a coworker who was docked for not being reliable in her performance review.

      The reason was that she was often out on assignments for the company.
      Our whole department pushed back on that manager’s expectations, but they wouldn’t revoke the review – just put a post it on it noting that no one thought it was fair.

    4. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      One of the former owners at OldJob is like this. He told the secretary/receptionist to control our comings and goings, and she loved it so much she trashed a coworker who took some days off to help his girlfriend who was in a car accident (“He must be here because he’s not injured”). They insisted even when we had a broken toilet FOR A WEEK.

    5. Bunny Girl*

      I had one of those too. It was ridiculous. We could have a 15 minute break in the morning and afternoon, and sometimes I would walk across the street and get coffee. It never took me more than 15 minutes, I timed it. At first I would IM my supervisor to let her know because she was pretty micromanaging, but she told me I didn’t need to do that. But then she would start complaining that she was looking for me and didn’t find me during my 15 minute breaks. She said she came looking for me 4 times during that 15 minutes. There is no way, she never left her desk herself.

    6. Phony Genius*

      Here’s how I was taught to deal with this. If you are scheduled to be somewhere else, say for a press conference, e-mail your boss that you are going to be at that location for whatever the scheduled time. If the boss says no, you should be here, do as your boss says and don’t go. Eventually, somebody who is probably above your boss is going to ask your boss why you weren’t there, and the boss will have to explain. Or, they’ll ask you directly, and you have an e-mail proving that your boss directed you not to go. Neither of these scenarios will end well for your boss.

      1. LabTechNoMore*

        The paper trail helps, but it’s important to note that these kinds of workplaces often defy logic. The boss will still somehow blame it all on you, shield themselves from the higherups, and then you’d have to answer for dropping the ball and not doing your job. In toxic workplaces, sometimes you have to choose between doing your job, or doing what your boss tells you.

    7. RVA Cat*

      Obviously it’s because if they’re not in the office, you can’t flog them into morale improves…..

  16. ITGuy*

    This is disgusting. So many companies only care about themselves and many people around me wonder why I only have loyalty to myself and not to my employers. SMH

  17. Oranges*

    I couldn’t follow what exactly is going on (because my brain), but I got enough to go “that’s not okay, these people are horrendous piles of garbage”.

  18. on the 3s*

    This is not as crappy as it seems on some levels. My husband’s company was considering reducing salary by that amount, and keeping people working full hours.
    If a company is considering layoffs, but could instead cut everyone’s hours just the amount of the check, it would be preferable than unemployment.
    It would also be better for more people if a company were to have the choice of laying off some employees, or cutting everyone’s hours to this amount.
    I get that this will be an unpoplular opinion, but I don’t think this is that egregious. Several employers just shut down, even though the CEOs BONUS could pay employee salaries for 6 months…
    and yes, I know that this is meant as an economic stimulus, and that this isn’t the spirit of the law, but that’s the problem with the scant employee protections in the US, we can’t count on employers to have ‘the spirit of good’.

      1. on the 3s*

        The issue is with our employment laws, we cannot just expect companies to do the right thing.

        1. TiffIf*

          This is an argument I got into with my brother-in-law and his brother one time–they are both great proponents of de-regulation and “free market will fix everything”. I have yet to see any industry or new technology that didn’t get itself into a mess because they weren’t yet regulated and didn’t take responsibility and self-regulate. And the people in charge don’t care because they already made their money and will move on to another un-regulated area and exploit it just as much.

          I read an interesting article a few years ago about why workers at Eastman Kodak never unionized–it was because Kodak took pro-active steps to treat their workers right and monitored what was being done at other companies where workers had unionized to match benefits and pay. (Unionization is different than government regulation of course, but both can be used to force change and restrictions on poor actors.)

          1. whingedrinking*

            Exactly. Workers don’t unionize because collective bargaining is a laugh a minute. They organize because they want better treatment. If you don’t want to have to deal with a union, don’t get to a point where people are thinking, “I’ll pay dues and go to meetings if it means this place is less hellish to work for.”

    1. Ew, David*

      I’m so sad that you are so Stockholm Syndrom-ed by late stage capitalistic corporate greed, that you would take time out of your day to defend an organization that is planning to take money directly out of the pockets of their lowest-paid workers, for the benefit of a corporation.

      1. on the 3s*

        I’m saying that it isn’t worse than losing your job. I’m saying some companies are acting really bad, and this ain’t the worst. There is some nuance to the situation, but get up on your high horse.
        Imagine someone taking time out of their day to attack a person for noting that the problem is the employment laws, and that we rely on companies to ‘do the right thing’ when clearly they won’t.

        1. Fikly*

          Well, gee, I guess it’s ok for the abusive boyfriend to beat the woman, as long as he stops just short of murdering her.

          1. on the 3s*

            Everyone is really misreading what I wanted to say, or maybe I said it poorly. Please remove the comment, I feel attacked and I think it is riling people up. Not my intention. People are misunderstanding sooo much of what i was trying to say, and debate isn’t working.
            You removed a comment I made, but I am being misunderstood and all the rage at the company is being redirected at me in an unproductive manner. I was never defending this.

            1. Amtelope*

              You said “I don’t think this is that egregious.” Many, many people do feel it’s that egregious. I don’t believe you’re being misunderstood. I believe you’re failing to understand why this is morally wrong.

              1. RVA Cat*

                Yeah this is sounding like one of those dudes saying it’s not sexist to catcall women because some rando commenting on my breasts “is a compliment….” *eyeroll so hard*

            2. Richard*

              You were never defending this except when you said “This is not as crappy as it seems” and “I don’t think this is that egregious.” Yes, it could be worse, but we prosecute criminals for not committing the worst imaginable crimes and we criticize people for doing bad things that are not the worst imaginable things and these are not misunderstandings or misreadings.

            3. Fikly*

              Not liking the consequences of what you said is not the same as being misunderstood. Say better things.

              1. Jennifer Thneed*

                Yeah, I remember fondly the community meeting where the leader finally stopped the person who had taken over the meeting by saying “if someone disagrees with you, that’s not the same as them misunderstanding you, and we will move on now”.

                1. FIkly*

                  Well, the logic there is that they cannot be wrong, so clearly if people are disagreeing with them, they must be misunderstood!

      1. pope suburban*

        Seriously. This is still taking food out of the mouths of the least-compensated employees, who are going to be struggling harder with the knock-on effects of this disease than the C-suite folks. If someone’s out that money, well, they’re out that money, and no amount of prevaricating by management is going to change that.

    2. Me*

      No. Just no. You keep people employed if you can or you lay them off so they can collect unemployment.

      And that means CEO’s should be forgoing they gigantic salaries let alone bonus.

      Since employees cant seem to be good on their own, then they get shames publicy for the bs. Not given a pass with a well it could be worse so it’s kinda ok.

        1. on the 3s*

          I am in no way giving it a pass. I am saying there is nuance, and the problem is the lack of protection. Companies will not ‘do the right thing’. Pointing out that fact doesn’t make me the bad guy. Pointing out that this isn’t the worst outcome doesn’t make me the bad guy.

          1. klew*

            But this whole post isn’t about employment law and lack of protection. It’s about the shirty thing OP’s company, and others, have said they were going to do. Also, there isn’t any nuance to it. It’s wrong even if it is legal.

            1. pope suburban*

              Also, unless I’m wildly missing the mark here, there aren’t laws preventing companies from doing the right thing. There are laws that don’t require them to, sure, but that’s not the same thing. The fact is that there are no barriers to companies choosing to do the right thing (That, incidentally, often ends up being more cost-effective in the long run, if you’re the kind of ghoul that prioritizes the bottom line above all else), and that the horrible things companies are doing are choices, not inevitable consequences of employment law. Companies are choosing to exploit their workers, just as other companies are choosing to support their workers. Let’s not muddy the waters and try to pretend that anything bad that happens is inevitable. That serves nothing except the poisonous ideologies that got us in this mess.

          2. Sunflower*

            The worst outcome would be for them to take the money and have to close anyway. If the company needs this money to keep the lights on, I’m going to be concerned they aren’t going to make it through this. I don’t blame the OP for not wanting to take that chance because the company thought it was OK for them to not have money in savings but their employees are SOL.

          3. Me*

            No one is saying you are the bad guy. However your post seemed to be giving the behavior a pass because it’s just how it is.

            Mine and many other peoples points are that companies are making a choice and there is a right and a wrong one. There’s no nuance to protecting yourself but hanging your employees out to dry.

          4. Avasarala*

            They could also straight up murder their employees, but since they’re not doing that, guess we can’t complain they’re just taking their money…

    3. CatsOnAKeyboard*

      What you’re suggesting is even worse than the original OP! At least in the OP’s case, affected employees wouldn’t be 1) working for free for part of the time and 2) would very possibly be eligible for some money from unemployment.

    4. SereneScientist*

      But that’s not what the LW is describing. Stimulus plans include separate financial assistance for businesses, LW’s company is talking about taking the individual checks being distributed to folks for themselves. Money that’s specifically NOT intended for the business.

      1. Richard*

        Particularly since businesses are likely to get their own more generous bailout in whatever bill ends up passing.

    5. Jedi Squirrel*

      Your response makes me almost as angry as OP’s letter.

      Your opinion isn’t just unpopular, it’s wrong. The purpose of the stimulus check is to…DUH!…stimulate the economy. Letting rich fat cats keep this money is NOT stimulating the economy.

      Unemployment would actually be preferable, because then they could collect unemployment. And spend that time looking for a job with an employer who isn’t outright shitty.

      My god, rethink your priorities in life.

      1. JustaTech*

        Exactly! The point of this money is to get *spent*! Spent as quickly as possible, preferably in retail (grocery stores, gas stations, laundromats, take out restaurants).

        A stimulus check doesn’t stimulate the economy if it goes into a corporation or CEO’s bank account and sits there doing nothing.

    6. Anoning here*

      Um, yes it is, because there’s no evidence that this company is hurting financially in any way. Unless there is, they’re just being greedy.

      Some companies behaving even more badly does not make this less egregious.

        1. FIkly*

          Huh, many restuarant chain’s financial statesments that they are legally required to publish would actively disagree with this.

          Also, if a lack of business for a few months will put you out of business, you shouldn’t be in business to begin with, and it’s not ok to use your employees to stay in business – they certainly wouldn’t do the same for their employees if the shoe were on the other foot, as is clearly demonstrated here.

    7. So long and thanks for all the fish*

      Yeah, sadly, I’m with you. It’s bad, but given everything else that’s happening, it’s far from the worst. I’ve had a bunch of friends laid off in the last week. Has this place not cut people’s hours already, in anticipation of reduced demand? If not, this could even be fairly nice, as they’re making sure their employees won’t be worse off due to the situation. If they already have, how is that not shooting themselves in the foot? Or is the alternative just closing entirely and laying people off?

    8. Not So NewReader*

      So your husband pay is going to be cut by the amount of the government check and he will keep working? The government check will have his name on it, not the company’s name. It’s not their check. I am seeing a huge sense of entitlement here.

      What happens if he demands his regular pay? Will he get fired for asking? I believe we have laws protecting workers from having to pay to keep their jobs- I think I remember something historically where people were paying to keep their jobs and this was an issue that unions targeted, back when unions were on the rise. Years ago, I was told I had to donate to my company. When I pushed back, I was told donate or be fired. I said, “union”, and that whole problem suddenly went away.

      1. kittymommy*

        This is how I’m taking it (and maybe I’m misreading the comment), but essentially the husband is working for the (private?) company and instead of said company paying the salary, the federal government is (essentially) paying the salary. Umm, yeah, I imagine that’s going to be an issue with a lot of people!

        1. comments on innovation*

          If the government’s paying my salary, are they also funding the benefits? How about the difference between total pay and take home pay? how is this math gonna work?

          This is horrible.

          1. not really a lurker anymore*

            If the gov’t is funding, then they need to offer their health insurance and pension/retirement plans, right?

      2. Thornus*

        Some states have anti-rebate or anti-kickback statutes that generally prohibit companies from requiring you give them money back, probably for the reasons you listed. I am not sure how widespread they are though.

        It would be an interesting claim to bring in one of those states to say this counts.

    9. Jedi Squirrel*

      I presume you’re okay with your company reducing your pay by the amount of your income tax refund, since they obviously overpaid you by that amount. I mean, you managed to live all year without that money, so you obviously didn’t need it.

    10. MsMaryMary*

      *If* OP’s employer was saying “Hey, we need to reduce everyone’s hours because of COVID-19 and reduced demand, but we’ll try to schedule everyone with enough hours so that with the government stimulus you’ll be close to what you were earning before” that would be okay. That is not what they are saying.

      What your husband’s company is doing is arguably worse! If demand/revenue has declined by 50%, shouldn’t employee’s workloads also decrease? If there’s enough work to keep employees busy full time, they should earn a full time salary. At least if there is an actual reduction in hours or if employees are laid off they could apply for unemployment.

      1. Another worker bee*

        Yeah, I agree with this…

        Many employers have already cut hours and furloughed workers, due to an extreme lack of demand. If, and only if, this employer was keeping a full staff unnecessarily just for the sake of keeping their employees whole, I could see this as….still not great, but defensible from the business perspective? I mean, if the employer goes out of business because they can’t make the numbers work, then those workers are out a lot more money in the long run. It does feel very mean-spirited, though, to cut hours to that exact amount of the stimulus.

        1. Bluesboy*

          It certainly does feel mean spirited, the hour cut being directly linked to the stimulus. But if Company A has already cut employee hours (and so salaries) to avoid losing money through the period, and Company B has tried to keep employees on full hours, despite losing money doing it, and now cuts them a bit because their employees now have a safety net…I would be sorry to see Company B getting shamed more than Company A.

    11. Richard*

      It seems that, given your increasingly panicked defense of this opinion, when you said “I get that this will be an unpoplular opinion,” you actually didn’t get that at all.

    12. Sunflower*

      If the company needs the people’s checks to keep afloat, I’m going to be really concerned that even with them, they aren’t going to make it for the long haul anyway.

    13. Laney delaney*

      Here’s the thing — there is nothing stopping the executives from giving up their bonuses or taking a pay cut to help out the company. It is easy to say employees who qualify for stimulus should have to give it to the company — the big shots are t giving up anything because they won’t qualify for stimulus. When the 2T bailout gets approved, will the company give out bonuses to its employees it stole the stimulus from? Or will the only bonuses go to the execs (like it did last bailout)

    14. YouGottaThrowtheWholeJobAway*

      Your husband’s company are not doing something nice, they are trying to avoid layoffs so they don’t have the pay UI or take heat for laying people off. This is a cost-saving measure for them and has nothing to do with the welfare of the employees.
      It is very crappy.

      Those in charge, on an ownership and senior management level at your husband’s company should forgo any pay at all before they take a single cent from payroll.

  19. EmKay*

    Question: how would the company know that a certain employee received a stimulus cheque? Wouldn’t the employee have to tell them? What if the employee just… didn’t?

    Of course a company that would even entertain this notion is probably screwing over their employees in many other ways. Ugh.

    1. A nonnie nonnie non*

      People receiving checks, will likely make under a certain amount. I don’t think its officially been unannounced yet. So if the cut off is $50k per year (just a made up number), they would know which employees would receive the check which wouldn’t based on their salary.

      1. CJM*

        They wouldn’t know your salary if you file a joint return. And in at least some talk that is going on in the Senate, some people would only receive between $600 and $1,200, depending on your tax liability (not your income). Again, your employer wouldn’t have this info.

      2. Katharine*

        But I am married and probably won’t receive one based on family income. They are looking total family totals based on filing.

        Also it is going by 2018 which if I haven’t working at the company then they would really have no idea of my finances.

        1. Putting Out Fires, Esq.*

          There would be a higher threshold for married couples filing jointly. You may still not qualify depending on spouse’s income, but they’re taking into consideration the fact that two adults might bring in more money but also have (not double but more) expenditures

          1. Katharine*

            But means they would reduce my hours on the perception I’d be getting a check when I wouldn’t be. That is still less money for my family.

    2. Mazzy*

      I think most people working in the restaurant industry are getting one. As of the latest draft any individual earning under $75K qualifies for the full amount, and it gets reduced by $5 for every $100 in income above that. Those are the most specific numbers I’ve seen, but they don’t make sense now that I look at them, since that would put the person below $0 before $100K in income, and I also read $100K is the cutoff. Either way I think this pretty much covers most if not all restuarant workers, especially since the cutoff for married couples is about twice

      1. Mazzy*

        Edit I did math wrong, $5 reduction for every $100 in income makes sense, it brings the person down to a $0 check at $99K as the article said. Sorry for mixup.

    3. on the 3s*

      Yeah, I didn’t think of the angle of the stim checks being different amounts, like you may not get one if say you & your spouse made over a certain amount last year..
      It is despicable, what I am trying to get people to realize is the issue is not with the comapnies, it is with our current employment law. Like they literally can change the amount of money they pay you if you aren’t under contract, I know several people ‘lucky’ enough to have their jobs, that are facing salary reduction. It’s all legal, just the way the Koch bros wanted it.

      1. Marny*

        Yes, the problem is with employment law, but if companies didn’t look to take advantage of every possible way to legally screw their workers, the actual confines of the law would be irrelevant. As we see repeatedly on this site, a lot of things are “legal” but still f@cked up, and should be subjected to public shame.

        1. Librarian of SHIELD*

          This. Yes, we 1000% need to revamp our employment laws so they give adequate protections to workers. But also? Companies are not nebulous ethereal entities that make their own decisions without human input. They are run by humans. And any person or group of people who decides to do something like this, whether it’s legal or not, is a bad person. Full stop. I can absolutely pass judgement on people making decisions they know will hurt others, even if those decisions aren’t illegal.

        2. EH*

          What Bee said!
          Companies that value money over both their customers and their employees are a problem.
          Current employment law that enables companies to be monstrous is a problem.

        3. une autre Cassandra*

          For real. I promise I have plenty of rage to direct toward the lack of regulation AND the garbage companies exploiting every loophole.

      2. Mike C.*

        “Companies can’t help if they act badly because no one is there to make them act any better”

        *Companies pour millions into lobbying and publicity campaigns to ensure there is never anyone to make them act better*

  20. Mrs_helm*

    I’m trying to make sense of this, not excusing them, but ..are they currently allowing workers to continue their regular shifts, or something like them, even though the company doesn’t need them? As in, the company is currently taking a loss in order to keep employees close to their regular pay? So then they’re rationalizing that when the stimulus check comes in, if they drop hours people will still have the same amount as before?

    Maybe someone could show them AAM’s other article about getting unemployment when hours are cut? Or suggest asking if there are employees willing to be temporarily laid off to allow their fellow employees to keep getting paid? Those seem like better solutions, if that is what they’re trying to do.

  21. Tiffany In Houston*

    Alison – Can you obscure the letter writer a bit more, pls? _____ is pretty descriptive, I would hate for them to get in trouble.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yes, and I will remove the details you quoted from your comment too so they’re not in the comment section either! (I appreciate you flagging this.)

  22. RUKiddingMe*


    Name them. Everyone call your senators snd reps. Congress has the power yo make this illegal!

    1. Mimi Me*

      pardon my cynicism but Congress and the Senate can’t do anything without it being a partisan issue. Gone are the days where rules were made (or abolished) for the benefit of the average US citizen. Now it’s a long, drawn out “your side/my side” argument and unless there’s something in the ruling to benefit the person who opposes it, nothing gets done. It’s the reason the stimulus conversation keeps going on as long as it’s been. It’s so exhausting and really disheartening. Because the continued inability of our government to work together means that companies like this one know that they can get away with this.

      1. RUKiddingMe*

        Oh yeah I get that. I’m about as cynical as they come. I think though that if they get bombarded by “and I freaking VOTE” calls enough they will pay attention. Not because they care but because it potentially affects *them.*

        1. JustaTech*

          It’s way easier to call your congress critters when you’re working from home (assuming you have time) than when you’re in the office.

      2. Cordoba*

        When was this bygone golden era where rules were made for the benefit of the average citizen, free of partisan grandstanding and bickering?

        1. JustaTech*

          Approximately 100 years ago when people marched in the street and died by the cart-load (Radium girls, Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, etc).

          But there was still partisan grandstanding and bickering. That’s just nature, like wind and rain and mosquitoes.

  23. TravelTech*

    If this allows the company to keep ppl employed and not furlough or lay off mass amounts of people, I think it is OK. Some companies are looking at mass layoffs. Companies are looking to preserve cash flow to pay things like insurance and essential employees. It may feel distasteful, but if it keeps ppl employed and allows them some sort of potential job security. I disagree that the company should be shamed.

    1. Count Boochie Flagrante*

      There are separate plans for business assistance. The money being paid to individuals is meant to help individuals, not their employers. If the business needs financial assistance (of course it does) then it needs to ask the government for that assistance for itself, rather than taking advantage of the help meant for employees.

      1. TravelTech*

        In the travel industry, we have no assistance at the moment. And what is being proposed is for airlines. But airlines pay other companies and those bills are not being paid. In travel, companies are paying out more than they are earning. In this instance, is the company having to close stores due to quarantines? How many affected ppl have called out? Do they have reduced supply and unable to meet demand so they are looking to cut some costs. You have no idea what pressures they are experiencing. I do encourage OP to ask questions to understand why. But I wouldn’t assume that it is deviant behavior immediately. From what I have seen, companies are doing their best in general to figure out how to not just bankrupt immediately and then send thousands to unemployment.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          But airlines have assets, and they can declare bankruptcy, and they have other means to pull through. The workers the stimulus is designed to help don’t have those things.

          1. TravelTech*

            The airlines feed multiple adjacent industries that rely on them for their business…airports…tech companies…travel agencies. And then there are hourly workers that support those businesses.

            All I am saying is, let’s not be quick to judge and shame.

            1. New Jack Karyn*

              Airlines used the tax breaks they just got to buy back stock to keep the prices inflated. They didn’t keep a safety cushion for themselves.

              I will judge them, and I will shame them.

            2. Count Boochie Flagrante*

              Then the companies in those adjacent industries can band together to push the government for relief directed toward airlines.

              Skimming from their own employees is still not the answer.

    2. A nonnie nonnie non*

      It defeats the purpose of a stimulus check. A stimulus is supposed to stimulate the economy and allow people to put money back into economy. It completely defeats the purpose.

      Plus is this is a large multi national chain, they can afford it. They just don’t want to.

      1. TiffIf*

        “A stimulus is supposed to stimulate the economy and allow people to put money back into economy.”

        This! Honestly–my first inclination with any extra money I get is to pay for what I need, then pay off debt, then put money in savings*. If the stimulus money comes through, and I qualify, I will have to consciously change my first inclination and purposefully spend frivolously and locally if possible.

        (Earlier this month I got my yearly bonus–after tax it came to around $2300–I let myself be frivolous with about $150 of it–the rest went to student loan debt and savings.)

    3. ElizabethJane*

      No. If individuals are expected to maintain an emergency fund of 6 months expenses then companies need to be held to the same standard. This bailout is for individuals.

      This would be like my company saying “Well, you received a pair of shoes for your birthday so we’re going to take away one of your shifts – you obviously don’t need to work to buy shoes”.

      1. Vancouver*

        Thank you for this analogy. I was having trouble articulating why this was such a big deal (since cutting shifts is a thing that happens for all sorts of reasons), but this helps get it clear in my brain. I knew it was bad, now I can actually explain why!

    4. Marny*

      It feels distasteful because it is. A large multinational company can find the money they need in their C-suite member’s pockets, not the pockets of the lowest paid employees.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        And why don’t the executives ever take one for the team and cut their own damn pay in these circumstances? They’re always looking to rob their employees, the actual people doing the work, blind, but don’t feel the need to make that much of a sacrifice to save their own businesses.

    5. Fikly*

      This is making the huge assumption that a massive national chain like this doesn’t have the money to do this without stealing from its employees.

      And I assure you, the people they are taking these checks from are the first ones they will let go, so all they’re doing is making them poorer before they deprive them of income.

    6. Amtelope*

      No. There are avenues being made available for businesses to pursue emergency loans. Essentially stealing stimulus checks from their employees is shameful.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      If a company needs that money to stay afloat then their ship is in rough water anyway.

      For small companies that $1200 or whatever will only postpone the inevitable for a short bit.
      It’s on a par with me stealing $20 from someone. It’s not going to fix my problems but it will cause me to suffer from the ill-will of others for years to come.

      In WWII a certain charity made the soldier pay for the coffee the charity gave them. It’s only been in the last decade or so that I haven’t heard anyone mention it. That gesture took on a life of it’s own and was well remembered and repeated for over 50 years, as people refused to have anything to do with that charity for decades on.

      1. New Jack Karyn*

        I had never heard of that, and went to look it up. So weird! It seems that it was the US Secretary of War asked them to do it, because they *had* been charging British soldiers, and it led to hard feelings among the troops. That organization was really between a rock and a hard place, there.

    8. Mike C.*

      “Hey guys, some companies are laying people off, that totally and completely justifies any bad action any other company does in the name ‘potential job security’. ”

      Yeah, that’s a load of garbage.

    9. JustaTech*

      Here’s the problem: the stimulus checks will only work to stimulate the economy (and save all these businesses) *if they get spent*. This company and it’s C suite is not going to spend the money, they’re just going to invest it. We know that from the last recession.

      Hourly workers? They’ll spend it immediately on things like food and gas and laundry and rent. That’s how the money *needs* to be spent.

      Let the C-suite take a haircut for once.

    10. Sunflower*

      If you think this is OK, why do you care if the company is named? There is little guarantee this money is going to do anything but keep the company running for another few weeks before they ultimately have to shudder. I would not be feeling optimistic if I was the OP. Job security means nothing if the security is for 2 weeks

  24. Notthemomma*

    I rarely feel your emotion coming through in your posts, but with this, I can feel the seething anger radiating. And rightfully so; thank you for all you do on this and all else.

  25. Roscoe*

    I’ll be honest, I’m not a fan of publicly shaming individuals. The book “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed” really changed my opinions on it.

    But shaming companies purposely screwing over employees, I’m all for

    1. Old person*

      I don’t think that they should be named here. It isn’t in the spirit of this blog, jmo. But I do think the reporter should be contacted.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I do hope we get a link to the article once it’s written. I am hoping I don’t miss it.

      2. virago*

        “I don’t think that they should be named here. It isn’t in the spirit of this blog.”

        But the commentariat did name the employer (the nonprofit organization Operation Smile) that had 20 finalists for an entry-level program coordinator position.

        During an all-day interview, each finalist was required to take part in a group activity: preparing a meal for and entertaining 40 senior staff at the executive director’s house. The group activity started at 5 and didn’t end until 10:30 p.m., “when it moved to a local bar,” said the OP. (This ghastly situation was the focus of a Jan. 9, 2014, letter to AAM and, later, an article by Hamilton Nolan on the now-defunct website Gawker.)

        I don’t know if this link will work, but here it is:

        In both the Operation Smile job “interview” letter, and this one, I feel like the employer has forfeited the benefit of the doubt by going out of its way to treat potential/current employees as if they were interchangeable cogs rather than actual humans.

    2. Archie Goodwin*

      I’m generally against public shame…certainly when it comes to individuals. There are too many ways for it to go wrong.

      Companies, though, are a different matter – shaming them a.) gives them a chance to course-correct, and b.) gives the market a chance to do its work. I never say never – circumstances can always change – but knowing about something like this makes me less likely to want to spend money at a place. And if enough people feel that way, and act accordingly, then the company in question will see that there are real consequences for its actions. It’s something I’ve come to feel quite strongly about over the past few years.

      1. Washi*

        Yes, this is not about shaming an individual who made a mistake, this is about holding a company publicly accountable for their business practices. If they’re convinced this is the right thing to do, they can go on the record and explain their reasoning.

      2. costume teapot*

        Yes, this! Remember Barilla? I’m not convinced the company has necessarily changed their actual opinion on the topic, but they certainly learned their lesson in letting personal opinions run their marketing.

        1. Laney delaney*

          What about the guy who owns Madison Square Garden? James Dolan actually got sued in 2019 for too high pay while only putting in part time hours . Other teams have said they will pay their arena workers, but the owner of the most valuable team in the NBA will not pay concession workers past March 31st.

  26. Cmg*

    Among other things, this totally defeats the STIMULUS reason for issuing payments. If we give people 1200 and they spend it on goods and services in their own communities, that will help restart the economy.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      But thanks to this reporter we will now have a substantial list of where NOT to spend our stimulus money!

    2. qvaken*

      Thank you! This is a terrible thing to do to the workers, but it’s also a terrible thing to do to the local and national economies. This business is happy for other businesses to go down and everyone in the country to get hurt so they can take an opportunity to save a small amount of money.

  27. Archie Goodwin*

    I, too, would like to know what company this is that had such a tomfool notion. I would also support a boycott, above and beyond public shaming, until they prove that they understand what they did wrong.

    1. Ms Mash*

      Once shamed, the company looses revenue because people are not eating there anymore, even after the financial collapse is over. Result is the employee loses their job anyway.

      It’s a classic catch-22.

  28. Mazzy*

    This is horrible but also doesn’t even make sense, which is the minor point, but I’ll mention it, since no one else has. If you need employees to work, cutting their hours hurts you. If you don’t need them to work, then you shouldn’t have scheduled them anyway or have longer term issues of having too many employees you don’t really need. Third, the check amounts of $1200 should be considered too minuscule for most businesses to be focusing on. I know that’s not the point, but everyone else has already pointed out how horrible this is. As a manager, I think it’s important to focus on larger revenue streams and expenses and not nitpick employees about tiny dollar amounts like this anyway. Especially if they’re one time. Maybe I should just be grateful I have a job where I can save money in other ways besides pissing off employees.

    1. fposte*

      I’m now wondering if the plan is actually to lower the pay rate going forward, whether hourly or salaried, but keep people working the same hours. That would likely be legal, at least in most states, but super-scuzzy.

      1. CupcakeCounter*

        The ownership of the NJ Devils and Philadelphia 76ers announced that any salaried employee who makes over $50k will be getting a 20% pay cut for the next 6 weeks or so (in theory to keep paying the hourly workers who have no hours at the moment due to cancelled events). However, the billionaire who owns them and all of the players are not having anything cut (the CBA has a clause allowing non-payment to players in the event of a shut down).
        Mark Cuban is covering all the pay for people in his network and many of the other teams are using either ownership funds or their various foundations to cover the costs so no one takes a cut.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          The Sixers owner backtracked on this after being publicly dragged. Now everyone will be getting their full salary again, lol. Who said public shaming doesn’t work?

    2. juliebulie*

      Yeah, I did think of that a little, because I’ve stopped going to certain restaurants because they’re so understaffed (all of the time) that the service is terrible. If this big chain wants to shoot itself in the foot that way, there will still be plenty of other places to eat.

  29. Z*

    Many companies will do this. It’s just that this particular company said it openly. This is indication that the system which benefits employers/companies /corporations has to change.

      1. Third or Nothing!*

        I’ve been quoting that line far too many times this past week. I could really use some not-terrible news.

      1. Third or Nothing!*

        BUT what if I’m washing clothes right now? I mean, a girl’s gotta have clean running gear. I’ve gone on so many runs and hikes just trying to keep from letting the PPA set back in.

    1. Ellen*

      Huh. No irony, I’ve been using cleaning as a substitute for, say, chocolate and alcohol as a coping strategy. My bathroom has never been so clean.

      1. Third or Nothing!*

        A much healthier coping strategy than those options, in my opinion. Keep on keeping on, fellow Warrior of Clean.

    2. Bowserkitty*

      HAH, I literally used a reaction gif of this yesterday for something! She’s big mood for me lately.

  30. Anita Brayke*

    OP, what restaurant chain is this? I would go so far as to (politely) call their national number and express how stupid they’re being (again, politely). Please?

  31. CupcakeCounter*

    My old company didn’t do a damn thing until the Governor set a stay at home order yesterday – granted they are considered essential (trucking) – but the freaking accountants don’t need to be onsite. That kind of stand is also the reason I left the company. New company (manufacturing) is awesome – started limiting people in the buildings 5-6 weeks ago and this is my 3rd week full time WFH. Our main plants just got shut down but we are in negotiations with the government to reopen at a lower capacity since we support the healthcare industry (think infrastructure type products).
    Also, I doubt my husband and I will qualify for the stimulus checks either but if we do get it we’ve committed to spend every penny at small local, service based businesses. Wherever this OP works will not get of dime from me or anyone in my family ever again if they decide to name them.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      I doubt I’ll qualify either, but if I do get a check (if they ever pass this package), I’m not spending a dime of it – it’s going into savings or paying off one of my bills so if I do end up losing my job over this mess, I won’t be too financially screwed until I find something else.

      1. CupcakeCounter*

        That is what I am recommending my sister and her husband do as well – they should qualify – but my husband I and are both in “essential” industries and have good savings so I’m trying to do what I can since I am one of the ones who can comfortably spend money right now.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Yeah, my savings is practically non-existent since I’m trying to pay off school loans and other bills, so I won’t be able to do much for anyone, including myself, if I lose my job. My mom and brother are essential workers and are both still working (mom at least from home starting today), but neither one of them has the funds to lend me should I be laid off due to low sales at my company.

  32. blackcatlady*

    This is right up there with airlines asking for corporate bailouts while the upper level executives pull down obscene salaries.

  33. QED*

    In addition to giving employers’ names to Polly, pleas also report them to your state attorney general! Many of them have a labor bureau that is probably spending a lot of time right now tracking down employers who aren’t following government directives. For example, here in NY, the labor bureau at our AG is taking calls from the public regarding employers who aren’t essential businesses under the executive order but are operating anyway. I know that what OP’s employer is proposing isn’t illegal, but AG’s have a platform to get media attention, and also have the weight of the state behind them when they send letters demanding a change in practice.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Thanks for this tip!

      I’d like to add a plug for the NYS AG’s office. They are wonderful people, they are polite, thorough and true advocates. I have nothing but a positive experience with them in the few times I have contacted them.

      US AG is equally impressive at least from my experience.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Maybe the US AG office was impressive once, but not anymore. The current AG is the equivalent of Dolores Umbridge to You-Know-Who.

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          I suspect there are a lot of career attorneys and officials who try to do their jobs effectively no matter who’s in office or who is the US AG at the moment.

          I mean, I’m with you on Umbridge and Voldemort, for sure.

      2. Diahann Carroll*

        I also vouch for the Ohio AG’s office. I had numerous issues with Sallie Mae back when they serviced my student loans, and that office scared the bejesus out of those people every time I filed a complaint – I was getting apology calls from their corporate office for their mishandling of my account and credits on my loans.

    2. Mike C.*

      Especially if this is a national chain! You’re quite likely to hit a state with an AG who is consumer minded and loves to go after this stuff. I live in WA, and ours makes a sport out of this and has previously nailed a bunch of fast food places for illegal hiring practices.

  34. Jaybeetee*

    Ugh, when it’s individual financial problems or a government furlough, it’s “You should have planned/saved.” Two weeks of reduced business functioning and it’s “Will no one think of the national corporations?!”

    I know people who own small businesses, and they’re hurting, and some might absolutely have to make cuts or even go under altogether if they don’t get help. But if it’s a huge, national or international business? That’s just greed.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      All of this. I am completely sympathetic to small business owners like my hairstylist who was barely getting by as is prior to the virus closures, but if her shop has to stay closed through the summer like they’re projecting, she may have to close altogether because she won’t have the funds to keep paying the rent on her building. Her other stylists and makeup artist will also be out of work if she has to close up for good. Businesses like that should be getting bailouts, not effing airlines (and I say that as someone who has stock in airlines that have absolutely plummeted).

      1. virago*

        Agreed. Because I set up my appointments way in advance, I have a haircut/color set up for next Monday.

        My stylist called today to cancel, because the state has closed non-essential businesses to the public. But I told her I’m going to pay her anyway. It’s not easy to find someone who does a good job with curly hair, and she’s been cutting my hair for at least a dozen years.

        Besides, it’s in my best interest, too. I want her to be able to reopen.



        Please have your hairstylist check into the stimulus package. There is a certain amount set aside to help small business stay afloat during this time. I own a very small business myself. Also, six weeks ago I took a position in Atlanta with a medium sized company. I relocated to Atlanta alone as my youngest son has one more year in high school.

        Three weeks into my new job, our office is exposed. Of course they immediately close the office and implement remote working. In my capacity I could work remotely full time. Many companies are moving towards it to keep overhead down. I’m a Talent Acquisition Director and I never interview candidates in person as most of them are spread out across the country.

        Our office was exposed on a Wednesday, we were all sent home to work. I worked the next two days actually about 10 hours a day but I’m exempt and I didn’t have to drive in Atlanta! The following Monday I send in my recorded interviews, resumes and other items on the candidates I wanted to move forward. And a list of links to other interviews of people that I wasn’t moving forward and tons and tons of times documentation in our system.

        I get a very nasty email stating I was told that out of over 1000 employees told to work from home by email, that I also received, that I was told not to work remotely.

        I asked nicely for them to forward me a copy of the email. They could not produce it. I was immediately terminated by HR, that actually fall under and told to immediately return any and all of the companies equipment. Or I would not receive a paycheck.

        I immediately go into Atlanta and meet another member of HR in a parking lot. By this time I make him sign a document stating that he received the equipment with date and time. My check is Direct deposited the following Friday and the company is refusing to pay me for the two days I worked from home.

        But I have seen companies that are doing much worse.

  35. Amber Rose*

    Some people make me ashamed to be part of the human race.

    I’m begging you. Name them so we can go give them shit on your behalf. Let us all be part of the group that pushes back with full force.

  36. Elizabeth West*

    Yeah, I definitely want to know so I can cough in their general direction (not really, but I will be voting with my wallet, and that vote will be a big fat NO).

  37. Jedi Squirrel*

    I know everybody wants to NAME AND SHAME and NEVER EAT THERE AGAIN, but believe me, if we did that to every huge megacorporation that pulled bullshit like this, there wouldn’t be many megacorporations left.

    Oh wait, that’s a good thing! Time for a full-on NAME and SHAME!

    (Also, hashtag #whyiamasocialist and #whyweneedregulation)

    1. Annie Nymous*

      This goes well with the “I won’t believe that corporations are people until Texas executes one” bumper sticker.

      Fight the good fight!

  38. Sarah Palin in a bear suit*

    PLEASE name this company. I need to know who to tweet at indignantly and then shit talk in my group chat about how we’ll never eat there again.

  39. LizB*

    We have a local restaurant group whose owner has told employees that she can’t make payroll so they won’t be getting their wages or tips from the hours they already worked the week of March 9th. (This is, in fact, illegal wage theft, and employees are organizing to pursue their legal rights. I’ll pop a link in a reply for Polly.) Big companies, small companies, there’s bad behavior everywhere right now.

      1. LizB*

        Yep, and I’ve eaten at a couple of her places. Never again. I have a lot of restaurant and service industry friends, so that’s how I found out. (Feel free to keep publicizing!)

        In contrast, Hola Arepa is making a ton of chips and salsa from the ingredients they still have in the kitchen, selling it online for curbside pickup, and giving all proceeds to the employees they’ve had to lay off. i.e.-Italian Eatery is selling tshirts with 100% of proceeds to employees, then you get a free entree if you wear it in when they open again. Zen Box Izakaya is doing pay-what-you-can takeout. We have a ton of great restaurants who are supporting their workers and the whole community.

        1. JanetM*

          Hot Rods 50s Diner near me is still getting their meat shipments — and cutting and packaging them for retail sale, as well as offering takeout. And I wish I could remember the name of the restaurant that donated all their stock to the local food bank.

  40. Katharine*

    Also this is likely going to be a tax rebate on our 2020 taxes and will just be deducted from a refund we might get in 2021. This isn’t “free money” and it’s disgusting a company would consider this.

    Please name & Shane them.

  41. Rebecca*

    The minute I hear who this is, I’m posting it to my Facebook, gonna make it public, and if we have a chain nearby, I hope they go out of business and we can give that business to locally owned establishments. I am so angry about this!

  42. Ghost of a Ghost*

    And people wonder why I fully and entirely expect to be completely screwed over by any and every one/thing until proven otherwise.

    1. Just Joe*

      Exactly how I feel. I’ve seen the same with my company. Firing longtime workers right before the pandemic, just early enough to not let them get their bonuses they earned in the prior year.

  43. migrating coconuts*

    We need to know the name of every company that pulls this kind of thing, or any other despicable act. We can put them all out of business.

    1. irene adler*

      Which will for sure put their employees out of a job.
      Like to hope things won’t come to that. Not so easy for some folks to find other employment.

      It would be wonderful if exposing them resulted in their becoming better corporate citizens and, going forward, endeavoring to treat their employees with fairness.

      1. Jedi Squirrel*

        Nope. If they go out of business, some other (hopefully small, locally-owned) company will come in to fulfill that need. (Think: where would you go for a burger and fries if McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Burger King weren’t around? We have a handful of great, locally owned burger places like this around here, and could do with a few more.)

        As long as we feel the need to feed our corporate masters, they will continue to screw us over like this. Free your mind and break your chains.

          1. Jedi Squirrel*

            If you have the skills and experience, the chances are good that you actually will.

            Stop. Think. Repeat.

          2. EH*

            We can’t let corporations hold their employees hostage to force the public to accept horrible business practices.



            I’m in HR mainly Talent Acquisition. Over a couple of decades. I got laid off myself. I took a job in an essential store for almost 75% less an hour than I was making. In a job a lot more physical. But it’s more than unemployment, I still have money coming in to help my husband with our bills.

            He is completely stressed out because I have always made a decent salary. And we had a good savings even though he made about half of what I did. But his father came to live with us because his health had become life or death. I left my high paying job to become his fulltime caregiver. It took two years, 10 surgeries and almost all of our savings but he is healthy now. But an amputee above the knee.

            I was finally was able to get back into the workforce and took a great paying job mid February. We were budgeting to build our savings back. I got to work a total of three weeks before our office we exposed. Every one else in the company was allowed to work from home, keep their jobs except myself and my assistant. And we could have worked remotely full time easily.
            Instead we were both laid off. But not till we both had worked for two days remotely that is extremely verifiable. The company I went to work for is refusing to pay us for those two days.

            So I took a job making so much less just to keep money coming in. I just hope that the restrictions become enforced and people stay home because that is all that will stop the spread. And that will help get the economy back to where it was. At that time I will get another good paying job. I know this for almost a 100% fact because it is what I have done for the two decades.

            I recruited the best candidates I could find to put them to work.

        1. RUKiddingMe*

          Yup. There was a time before the golden arches et al. that other eating establishments existed.

          There were places one could go for burgers, and fries, and cherry pies (great now I have an old Charlie Pride song earworm…) that didn’t include an “11 herbs and spices” secret recipe.

        2. Grapey*

          That’s not necessarily true that some local stores will swoop in; franchise managers of chain stores don’t necessarily have translatable skills like sourcing raw materials or designing recipes. Lots of people rely on accurate allergen information that’s standardized across the country across big names and don’t trust local menus. Some people won’t/can’t shop at a small store unless their prices are comparable to big box stores.

          The idea of a small business is romantic and I do try to frequent them whenever possible, but the demand for the kind of complexity (chains) large corporations can handle is not going away.

          1. MsSolo*

            I don’t know if you’re seeing it in the US, but the UK a lot of the little restaurants and cafes, that switched to delivery only with the lockdown, are having to close because they can’t get the supplies. Bigger brands with more clout have the ability to commandeer all of the takeout containers for their massively increased delivery services. Like you say, complex supply chains are more easily handled by large corporations, who have the resources to reach further afield and tap up multiple suppliers because they have economies of scale. I love my local indian place, and I’m sad they’ve had to shut having only just set up delivery, but they can’t afford the time or money to source everything they need to keep going without a guaranteed income right now.

  44. CU Attorney*

    Allison, can we make a list of companies that are doing things wrong but also ones that are doing it right? I for one would like to send my money at places that are actively doing the right thing not just not doing the wrong thing.

    1. Anono-me*

      That is a lovely idea.

      There is a hotel chain in Scotland that I am definitely staying at if I ever visit that country.

      Mcdonald hotel chain stepped in an offered staff accommodations to people from a nearby hotel after the nearby hotel laid off staff and asked them to vacate staff housing right away. (This was on the BBC News website.)

    2. Melody Pond*

      I love this idea! I’ve got one in the Portland, OR area that I could immediately add to such a list.

    3. TiffIf*

      As much as I dislike Comcast they, seem, to actually be responding responsibly. I got an email yesterday with “this is how we’re helping to protect you” and “this is how we are helping to protect our employees”-which includes temperature checks and new sanitization practices for technicians who need to enter peoples homes to fix connectivity issues and having customer service reps work from home.

    4. MonteCristo85*

      I have no proof, because I’m not an employee, but I got an email from StitchFix talking about how they may be delayed because of a couple of distribution centers closing, and they claim to be paying all employees, even the ones at the closed down facilities, full pay for the time being.

  45. Reality Check*

    Some restaurant owners in my area (in other areas too, I’m sure) have told the employees if they file for unemployment, they will claim the employee was fired for using drugs.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      It’s been a while since I have filed for unemployment, but a friend more recently had a similar experience. Unemployment knows who the bad actors are. In my friend’s case, the unemployment official said, “Everyone applying from this particular company has been accused of stealing. It’s not possible to hire this many thieves”. The unemployment app went right through, no problem.
      In my case, years ago, all I did was say the name of the company and I got a hard eye roll. “This isn’t a problem, you application for unemployment will go right through. This company has a huge reputation.”

      To all the companies that think they are so clever, those who work at unemployment know who you really are.

      1. irene adler*

        Good to know.
        My thought was to challenge the drug use assertion via asking for the company to provide proof.
        But I bet the folks at unemployment are way ahead of folks-and tactics- like this -as you pointed out.

      2. Gazebo Slayer*

        Oh yeah. My state’s unemployment office told me that Randstad has a policy of automatically contesting every single unemployment claim… so the unemployment office has a policy of denying them and giving the worker unemployment payments without requiring a hearing if the worker contacts unemployment about it. (I wish they’d do that without even requiring the contact – just auto-deny.)

    2. Librarian of SHIELD*

      And here I was thinking nothing about this letter could make me angrier than I already was…

    3. RUKiddingMe*

      Ugh. Assholes. Unemployment isn’t likely to believe that every single employee was fired for doing drugs.

      Just got off the phone. Husbands hours halved effective tomorrow. They *encouraged* him to file.

    4. Question*

      Is there a penalty for employers when (ex-) employees claim an unemployment benefit? Always wondered this… (I’m not in the USA).

    5. Gazebo Slayer*

      This is, morally speaking, fraud. I hope it legally constitutes fraud as well. (I’m 99% certain it fits the legal definition of defamation, too.)

    6. An American(ish) Werewolf in London*

      Wait, what?! Why? What possible benefit would that give the restaurant?

  46. Anonymous2*

    I could see a scenario where this isn’t as evil as it sounds. In a lot of places they’ve shut down restaurants except for takeout, so technically they’re open but I assume business is way down. If companies are trying to keep employees busy anyway even though they really don’t need them there because business is down, is it really so bad that the company wants to adjust employee hours so that overall the employee sees no change in their overall income, but the company isn’t spending as much extra money on payroll when they have such a drop in revenue?
    I think I’ve heard of something similar before if someone is off work on maternity/disability in certain situations (but may be mis-remembering the details) – the employee applies for disability but the company will still pay the difference between disability and full salary so the employee receives full salary, but the company isn’t making full payment when the employee isn’t actually working (ie the company is taking a financial hit without receiving any work product to ensure the employee is receiving full pay).
    If it’s cutting hours but the employee receives full payment versus laying off employees completely and the employee only receive the extra payout, and it helps a company stay solvent/not make permanent cuts, it doesn’t seem so evil?
    (Having said that, there will be evil companies that take advantage of the situation and this could definitely be one of them.)

    1. Not So NewReader*

      The goal of the program is to help individuals, not help businesses. If a company comes in to your home and takes your desk and chair so they don’t have to buy a desk and chair and in turn, keep you employed a bit longer is that okay?
      Is it okay if you never agree to letting go of your desk and chair, they just take it from you without asking?

      1. Anonymous2*

        I guess I had a different understanding of the $1,200 payments. I thought it was more to help all these families with reduced hours/layoffs to soften the financial hit of all the forced shutdowns.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I could be misunderstanding myself but it seems like everyone making less than x amount will get a check, regardless of whether they have remained working or not.

          1. comments on innovation*

            It would be way too complicated to do this in a way that only goes to people who aren’t working anymore. Imagine how much red tape it takes to means test stuff, then multiply it by 300 million people. It’s cheaper to give it to everyone in the country than means test it at all, honestly. (They’re gonna means test. I probably won’t be getting a check. That’s fine, I still have a job. If I didn’t… um. Not sure how they’re gonna figure that one.)

          2. Kelly L.*

            This. It’s not an unemployment payment. It’s meant to go to everyone, on top of whatever they’re already making, whether that’s $0 or more than that.

          3. nonegiven*

            Yes all the people that filed a 2018 tax return, under $75k for person, don’t know the amount for married or kids. Thought to average $3k per 4 member family

    2. Anonymous2*

      To clarify, I’m talking about a situation where this is part of the difference in a company staying solvent in the current economical crisis, not where a company has the funds and continues to have enough revenue and they’re just using a move like this to pad their own pockets.
      Sometimes keeping someone on with reduced hours/pay would mean an employee gets to keep their health insurance without paying the full COBRA fee for it or something like that where reduced hours is still preferable to a layoff and unemployment.

    3. Amber Rose*

      One: It defeats the purpose of the incentive, which is to boost the economy by putting more money into it.

      Two: If they don’t need the employees, then they should lay them off and allow them to collect unemployment/search for other work. Doing it this way cuts off every other option these workers have.

      Three: If individuals are somehow expected to have 6 months income set aside, companies need to be held to the same standard. It’s unacceptable to penalize our lowest income, most disadvantaged populace because the corporations waste their money carelessly.

      Four: Your “similar” case isn’t similar at all. That’s helpfully covering for people who are unable to work when they aren’t otherwise obligated to pay them. This is essentially a form of legal theft so they can continue to pay their C suite huge amounts of money and it’s disgusting.

    4. AnotherSarah*

      I think this comment is based on a misunderstanding–the cheques are not just for lost wages. They’re for other things as well, and frankly, they don’t begin to cover those other things. My husband and I are, luckily, still making our paychecks–but many of our expenses (heat, water, etc.) have gone up, and the reduced gas use/no restaurants does not make that up. We’ve lost nearly our entire retirement accounts, we’re spending so much more money on sick relatives…it’s not really about the wages.

  47. introverted af*

    Alison, I didn’t read through to know if anyone else has asked this, but when the article comes out could you share it here?

  48. IT Marie*

    I’m so sorry, OP. This is horrible!! I’m so glad we have the ability to call them out.

    Alison, on the flip side, could we have a place to name and not shame companies who have handled things well? Horrible companies should rightly get called out but I’d love to bring more attention to the good ones.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’ve been thinking about hosting a list of companies doing awful things and companies doing good ones. My hesitation is accuracy — what’s to stop someone in PR from talking up their company in inaccurate terms? (And on the bad company side, I suppose I’d also need to worry about people misrepresenting what their company is doing, and me being legally liable for it if there’s no mechanism to verify what’s posted.)

      1. Kathenus*

        As tempting as it sounds, and as much as I’d like to see such a thing if accuracy could be guaranteed, I think you note very good reasons why it could end up not having the intended effect. I think your contact info for the reporter is the perfect response. Thank you.

  49. Teelo*

    I heard Hobby Lobby was staying open because the CEO’s wife had a vision from god. Is this true?

      1. Catabodua*

        Yes, she realized that God was going to let her discretionary spending go too low and couldn’t have that happen.

    1. MechanicalPencil*

      Can confirm. I know an employee. It’s absolutely not an essential business. As much as I want my employee friend to still have a job, this was HL’s final nail in the coffin for me.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Mine was that stupid court decision re their religious beliefs vs. employees’ reproductive healthcare. I have not set foot in one since.

    2. Kay*

      Please note also that Hobby Lobby funded terrorist groups for years through the illegal purchase of looted antiquities from the Middle East in order to fill their “Museum” of the Bible. They are shady through and through. Google and you’ll immediately get several reputable sources.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        Put antiquities in quotes- apparently, at lot of those terrorist groups gave them fakes. Serves HL right.

      2. YouGottaThrowtheWholeJobAway*

        The very low bar is “don’t do business with ISIS,” and they could not even clear that before the pandemic. I hope they get sued by a bunch of state AGs.

    3. Gaia*

      I also had a vision from her god. It was that I should add this to the LONG LIST of reasons I’ll never shop there.

  50. On a pale mouse*

    I sort of see where they got the idea – if the money is purely intended to compensate people who have been laid off or had their hours cut, then employees whose hours haven’t been cut don’t “need” the money. And if the company’s business has dropped but they’ve kept people on for more hours than they need them because they were trying to avoid cutting people’s hours and therefore pay, then I can see where someone would think, “oh, hey, we can stop paying for more hours than we actually need now that the government is covering it.”

    Except… people are suffering economically in other ways, and the money is also intended to provide economic stimulus, and you don’t know people’s individual situation. And it’s just a lousy way to treat your employees. But I think I understand how they got there.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Right. There are extra costs here.
      Parents need childcare.
      Driving from store to store looking for TP, meat, rubbing alcohol, whatever, isn’t just time consuming people are using gas to do this. Perhaps they are driving more so an elderly neighbor can stay home and they bring their food to them. Many folks have a gap in their budget because of stocking up.
      Special care products for safety right now is also an unexpected cost.
      My friend hasn’t driven her car and probably won’t. She is worried about the car. Her daughter said not to let anyone drive it for it. It will be a repair bill to get that thing started later.

      If we got out of this tomorrow, we will find that we ran up some bills here that we could be paying on for a while.

      1. Alexandra Lynch*

        We are having trouble keeping our grocery budget down. If I need a bag of flour, and I normally buy the store brand for $2 and the national brand is all that’s left, I buy the national brand at $5, and you repeat that with all sorts of stuff all over the store, you wind up with a much higher grocery bill than you or your budget are used to.
        And given that we just got done with three months unemployment and he took a 20K pay cut for this job, this Does Not Help.

        1. nonegiven*

          I usually go to the next county and buy 4 of the largest cat litter bags once a month. If I buy cat litter here, I saw the smaller boxes for $10 each. I would need 12 of those, if I can find them, where I usually spend $72.

    2. PhillyRedhead*

      Except unemployment is to compensate people who have been laid off or had their hours cut. This stimulus check is to help boost the economy. So, taking that money from people and keeping it for the business defeats that purpose. Not to mention that there are separate economic relief bills for businesses in the works.

    3. Librarian1*

      IT is not purely intended to compensate people who have been laid off or had their hours cut.

  51. Anon for This*

    How would they know you received a check? From my understanding, the proposed stimulus checks would be based on 2018 and (if you’ve already filed) 2019 tax returns. My spouse and I made too much to qualify in 2018. My spouse was laid off three weeks before Christmas of 2019, and we have delayed filing our 2019 return to delay paying the owed taxes now that we have one income, in the hopes he’d find employment before the taxes were due. Based on that calculation, we’d get nothing. Would we have to disclose our personal financial details, etc. to “prove” we didn’t qualify to receive a check, despite the fact that we’re now relying on 40% of our previous income?

    Just, no. Stay out of your employees’ personal finances. Jerks.

    1. Lifelong student*

      immediately file your 2019 return- the payment deadline has been moved to July so you can file and pay later!

  52. So Not The Boss Of Me*

    1. It’s not the company’s business if an employee lives with someone and doesn’t pay rent, has a rich spouse, or just came into an inheritance. It’s irrelevant to the company.
    2. If they are going to do this, they must post a sign on the front door telling potential customers that they cannot take any money that came from the stimulus, because they did not let their employees have their stimulus. You don’t get to double dip!

    1. So Not The Boss Of Me*

      Last sentence in 1. should say: Wherever their employees get other funds, that’s irrelevant to the company.

      1. Delta Delta*

        Right? If the boss found out your grandma gave you $50 for your birthday, does the boss get to dock your pay $50? Nope.

  53. BL*

    This is really scary to think about.
    Alison, could you please post an update on this post if OP does decide to name the company? Perhaps with Polly’s article?

  54. "Enjoy your vacation and don't be so negative"*

    When my employer laid me off last week, he literally said, “Think of it as a vacation, since the government will be sending you a check! Just relax and enjoy yourself!”

    It was very clear that he saw the stimulus package as a way for the government to pay my salary instead of his company, and he felt like it was a “win-win” because I “was still getting paid” without any money out of his pocket. He refused to give me any severance or even pay out PTO.

    My company only has – had – 6 employees, so I can’t name and shame without revealing myself.

      1. "Enjoy your vacation and don't be so negative"*

        I did, but unemployment barely pays my rent.

        The point is, my employer would likely have not laid me off if not for the stimulus package. He, essentially, did the same thing as this employer by cutting my hours (to zero) with the assumption that I would be paid by the government.

        1. comments on innovation*

          Sorry but he’d have done it anyway. The stimulus package doesn’t actually exist yet. This is just his excuse. He was gonna fire you. The stimulus is the fig leaf he decided to hide his behavior behind.

          1. fposte*

            I agree with that. It’s just a new flavor of “Now you have plenty of time to do what you want!” that awful people say when they fire somebody.

            1. comments on innovation*

              Yep, just a slightly more insidious version that’s designed to redirect the blame for the firing onto someone other than the boss.

        2. Database Developer Dude*

          Name and shame, OP. You don’t work there anymore. He has no power over you.

  55. Jeanius*

    Wow. I am speechless.
    I mean, there are actually people out there that think these things? And are willing to do them?!
    Name em so we can put them on blast. None of this is okay.

  56. TheExchequer*

    I don’t normally advocate lying buttttt this is one situation where I personally would have few qualms about telling my workplace I wasn’t eligible for the assistance.

    1. TheExchequer*

      Not that you should have to lie! Please share so we can all boycott this place into oblivion.

  57. KR*

    So eternally grateful to work for a company that is enabling us to work 100% remote, offering an employee assistance fund, its own aid checks going out to employees that make under a certain amount, and additional time off to care for children or sick relatives. I’m so sad for the economic impact on people who don’t work for good ethical employers or have had their job disappear entirely.

  58. anon24*

    My husband’s job cut his hours in half. They were leaning towards paying the employees for the hours they were not going to be working, but then the government started talking about this stimulus and so they announced they would not be paid for their time off because “Trump will pay them.”

    This is the same company that is paying an employee full pay to stay at home and quarantine themselves after they voluntarily went on vacation to Italy in the midst of this crisis. So the employee who went on vacation gets their vacation extended an extra 2 weeks with full pay, but the employees who stayed home get unpaid time off.

  59. Employment Lawyer*


    This is completely wrong:

    In other words, if each person receives a check for $1,200, $1,200 will effectively go back to the company.

    No, not at all If the stimulus is given *to the companies* then it will come with strings which will require them to keep employees on payroll. But if the stimulus is given *to employees*, then it is designed to compensate them for reduced hours.

    The company doesn’t pay you, but they also don’t get the benefit of your work!

    When you’re not working, they are NOT “getting the value” of YOUR stimulus check any more than they are “getting the value” of MY stimulus check. If you’re thinking “but you aren’t working for them, how would they get your check?” that applies to you as well. You still get to have free time whenever you aren’t paid, and you still get paid for whenever you’re working.

    Someone above similarly complained that an employer “saw the stimulus package as a way for the government to pay my salary instead of his company.” That complaint also makes no sense because the complained-of action isliterally what a direct-pay stimulus is designed to do: keep businesses open by reducing payroll expenses (since they have minimal income and will otherwise fold if they have to pay people to stay at home) while preventing too much harm to employees of said businesses (by preventing them from being income-free during the layoff.)

    1. Melody Pond*

      That complaint also makes no sense because the complained-of action is literally what a direct-pay stimulus is designed to do: keep businesses open by reducing payroll expenses (since they have minimal income and will otherwise fold if they have to pay people to stay at home) while preventing too much harm to employees of said businesses (by preventing them from being income-free during the layoff.)

      I can’t see how this would be the case. Granted, I haven’t actually read the stimulus bill or anything proposed with it, but my impression is that the bill was going to unilaterally provide cash to individuals under certain income thresholds. I was also under the impression that there’s NO text in the bill that specifies conditions for that cash, in connection with that individual’s employer (or lack thereof).

      If the bill were designed to keep businesses open by reducing payroll expenses, wouldn’t the bill, you know, say something about that? Wouldn’t there be additional conditions or constraints placed on the stimulus money? Something like: individuals only get this money 1) if their employer is struggling to stay open, 2) if their employer would otherwise lay them off, and 3) if their employer is able to keep them on under reduced hours, as a result of the employee having this money. But even reading that, that makes no sense.

      I’m totally open to being proved wrong, here. If anyone’s got any of the actual text of the bill to cite, that would clearly show the bill is actually supposed to be helping businesses save payroll expenses – please, by all means, share.

    2. comments on innovation*

      since they have minimal income and will otherwise fold if they have to pay people to stay at home

      Eh? Businesses aren’t paying people to stay at home. We’re congratulating companies all over the place that are being nice and paying people to stay home. Most companies are sending people home without pay. That’s why people are trying to get stuff into the bill that won’t allow evictions.

      There’s stimulus to people and stimulus to businesses. We’re talking right now about stimulus to people. Stuff that goes to businesses will have things in there about business-related matters. Stimulus to people is about keeping people fed and housed.

  60. Catalyst*

    I truly believe that this pandemic is going to put some companies out of business, not because of the pandemic itself, but because of their reaction to it and how they treat their employees. The stories out there are so terrible. I am so unbelievably thankful to work for a company that is totally supporting their employees through this whole thing (we are all working safely from home btw).

    1. ACDC*

      The pandemic is putting my dad’s company out of business. His is a very small business, and he just can’t afford to pay his bills without any revenue coming in for 2 months. Very sad.

      1. pope suburban*

        Many states and regions are already putting together grant or zero-interest loan funds. Is there any chance that he might be eligible for some of those monies? I’m sure that people here in the comments would be happy to lend a hand researching or putting you in touch with people/organizations.

  61. NW Mossy*

    I wonder if in this new age of virtual work, some executives forget who’s on the call and can hear them. The optics here are HIDEOUS and whoever floated it in polite company deserves a major hand-slap for it.

    The cynical side of me is also just so annoyed that they couldn’t put in the 20 minutes of effort to craft a far less offensive message but still achieve exactly the same functional result. If you’re going to be a ruthless late-stage-capitalist jerkwad, at least be good at it – this mustache-twirling Montgomery Burns action just underscores the indignity by being so obviously tone deaf.

    1. Catabodua*

      I have found it rather interesting that every zoom meeting I’m in they take the time at the beginning to identify each phone number so they know EXACTLY who’s on the call. If a new number gets added, it’s noticed and the person identified. The host has bumped people off if they don’t respond.

  62. Anonymous for this*

    This is despicable for all the reasons people have mentioned. Many people are incurring extra expenses at this time, and any money from the government can help ease that burden. I’m grateful that my company, in addition to making all but essential employees WFH, is giving all employees extra money in an upcoming paycheck to help offset expenses.

  63. Seeking Second Childhood*

    Denmark is committing 10% of their GDP to cover 75% of the salaries of people who otherwise would be laid off.
    These people must stay home. Denmark is spending the money to preserve business structures — when the virus is under control, the economy can start back up with a flip of a switch.
    Of course this is also the logical country where they calculate the tax bill… anyone who wants to file a detailed exception can do so, but there’s no requirement that 100% of the population be able to do that level of accounting.

  64. skyline*

    On a good news side – my son works at Harbor Freight. They have been told anyone who can’t work due to the virus will be paid fully for the time they miss. They also donated all their PPE stock to the local hospital. I wish more companies could act decently like this.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I just saw the news that Harbor Freight was donating all the PPE to hospitals!

      I’ve always been lukewarm on them because really, it’s a discount chain and is what you pay for. But that makes me truly appreciate them on that level, we get a few things here and there from them. I wish we could buy more!

    2. Mama Bear*

      I saw that, too. We have pediatricians offices locally asking for anyone who has PPE to please donate to them. They are running out.

  65. MicroManagered*

    I think it’s totally bad ass that AAM’s response to this letter is “Here is a reporter to talk to.”

  66. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    That’s such the opposite of the reason why they want to inject a stimulus package into the economy. I feel like we’re stuck in “opposites day”, am I child again, is this secretly 1992? Leave me here…sigh.

  67. Safely Retired*

    So if I understand this, the company has – so far – not cut everyone’s hours. Everyone is still working normal hours, and everyone is getting paid their usual pay. And we see that they want to cut hours. If they want to cut, but haven’t, I would guess that they are trying to keep their employees paid despite not having the work (or business) to justify it. That has to be hurting the company, but they seem to be getting no credit for doing that.

    Now the company sees a way to save a few bucks WITHOUT depriving any employees of income.

    Perhaps I misunderstand the basic situation, but it sure doesn’t sound as evil as it is being made out to be.

    1. pope suburban*

      The problem is that the stimulus is not meant to be extra UI income, or substitute wages. It’s supposed to give people a boost up during a time where they may be experiencing additional expenses such as childcare, medical expenses, or higher grocery bills. Kind of how the G.W. Bush-era stimulus was supposed to infuse cash into already-strapped consumer budgets, so that we could actually go out and buy things/engage services that we needed but probably couldn’t afford. The company is in effect taking help for individuals and using it to pad their profits.

      1. fposte*

        Right. This is sort of like cutting people’s pay in the same amount as their WIC or SNAP benefits. It’s using federal/taxpayer money to cover the pay the employer promised them.

        1. Perpal*

          Well it seems like it keeps the paychecks stable, and the employees effectively get extra paid time off.. IDK?

    2. virago*

      The federal government is working on passing a business stimulus package that is meant to provide funding to companies affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The company doesn’t have to go reaching into its employees’ pockets for the money.

  68. Feline*

    I’m very interested to know whether my guess is right about this restaurant group. If it is, the same company took loads of incentive money when they relocated their HQ, including money for job creation that they never did. But by then, they had made excuses and sweet-talked the county into extending the deadline for that job creation several times, all the while taking fat tax breaks.

  69. Empress Kitty Kat*

    There is a local business in Michigan that choose to fire their employees, instead of laying them off, in response to COVID-19 mandates.

    1. Empress Kitty Kat*

      My apologies, it looks like the link to their website did not get included in my first post. The business is “The Pump House,” of Grand Haven, MI.

    2. fposte*

      How are they differentiating–do you mean they’re reporting it to the employment commission as being terminated for cause?

      1. Mama Bear*

        One of our kids was laid off by their very small restaurant so they could get unemployment. The owner is going to try to rehire them when they can open again. I think it makes a difference if they fired vs laid off.

        1. fposte*

          Right, that’s why I was asking if the reason for termination interferes with UI. To me that’s the important difference, since many businesses, and I’d say most restaurants, really have no idea when or whether they’ll be back on-line, so I don’t know whether calling it a layoff to the employees really means much about future certainty, and I don’t know if the rehire process would be any different with a layoff or a firing (or if Empress meant they won’t be eligible for rehire for some reason).

  70. My boss made me walk across coals for a promotion*

    I *thought* my company is doing well with this. Initially there were plans but it didn’t go into effect until the 15th when IT etc were rushing around to make sure everyone’s set up to WFH without any interruptions. The company provided us with laptops etc and made sure that a ll the remote systems were working. Everything seemed fine the first week.

    Today, I found out that 30% are cut now (sorry “furloughed”) and 60% until tax season and they’re gone too. I’m hte only one in my category being cut. It is a terrible feeling. And HR just emailed us a list of links on how to stay in shape during this time.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      I’m sorry your job is being cut – please take care of yourself during this very messed up time. I also hope you find something better soon.

  71. TiredMama*

    Wow, just wow. I doubt that company is paying its employees for any lost time (or tips) for hours that have been cut already and that’s what this money is for. Eff that company.

  72. TiffIf*

    My brother-in-law works for the US state department in a foreign country; his program which has been in existence for 50+ years just got suspended indefinitely, leaving him suddenly without a job and benefits–the state department is being generous with severance and paying out the remainder of the stipend. The state department isn’t cancelling his visa so he has until August when it expires to find a new job or be a dependent of my sister through her job sponsored visa. They were encouraged to return to the US, but right now it would be more expensive and risky to move them (and their two kids) back to the US with no guarantee of job availability (they are both teachers).

  73. Koala dreams*

    It’s too bad companies take advantage of government assistance like that.

    As an aside, the government in my (European) country have just started a programme this company would have liked, where employers can cut the hours of their workers down with 20/40/60 % and the government will top up the pay to around 90 % of the original pay.

    The idea is not bad, but the company should lobby the policians and not mis-use a totally different programme.

  74. Anya Last Nerve*

    Am I the only one who thinks publicly shaming the companies will not be at all helpful to their workers? In this case, if everyone decides to boycott the establishment, what will happen? They will go out of business and OP will lose her job. Are people going to shop there if the company changes its mind? No, they’ll remember and still be disgruntled and not want to go there. I don’t think putting OP’s employer out of business helps her in any way – perhaps they threat of a public shaming by OP would be a better approach.

    1. Koala dreams*

      It’s a mindset that requires you to have some trust in markets to sort themself out. The general idea is that if consumers boycott bad companies, the companies will have to shape up or go out of business. In the second case, their competitiors will take over their market shares, employ workers and server the customers.

      If it’s a big chain, I wouldn’t count on them going out of business. Big companies spend a lot of money on re-branding themselves, and many companies have gone through scandals and still stayed in business. Of course, for the current employees, it’s no help that the company stays in businees even though the employees are having hours cut or are laid off.

    2. Observer*

      Yes, so lets just let these companies hide their abhorrent behavior so they can keep on doing it in the name of protecting workers.

      If the company is in a healthy market and they go out of business simply because they are terrible and stupid people, then other companies who are not stupid and terrible will grow and hire those people. A win all around.

  75. TootsNYC*

    I’m guessing that the people affected by this will not be the ones the government expects to get it back from over three years, that they will earn too little. But still, given what it is, employers should butt the eff out here.

    This is between us taxpayers and citizens, and employers should not be paying any attention to it at all.

  76. Bob*

    What if the company is in the position of either laying off employees or cutting their hours? If they can reduce hours and keep their employees at the same pay rate isn’t that a win win? Most restaurants are going to lose money right now.

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      The proposed stimulus packages have a separate pool for businesses, so this would be the company double-dipping. The purpose of the stimulus fund is to encourage consumers to keep spending, jump-starting the economy.

  77. I’m new here.*

    Name and shame, please. Public outrage is a powerful tool.

    *Please don’t be In-n-Out Burger.*

  78. kathlynn (Canada)*

    One thing I would like to mention, regarding the comments saying that they are going to be asking what their Interviewer/company did during this is that different layers of a company don’t always communicate with each other. And a bad employee in a management position may wreck things for the people under them, while the company’s position is quite different. Or a new manager may come in, and they might not know what the company did, and their response would be based either on a “I wasn’t here level ” or possibly inaccurately based on what they were allowed to do at their former employer. (for example my employer refuses to allow me to take extra safety precautions during graveyards to keep us safe. My previous manager ignored that edict and instituted those safety measures. New management sided with the bosses. The law would likely side with me)

  79. Kelsey*

    I work for Half Price Books at a location in California. I received a text from my manager today saying that our store would be having 2 employees come in each day for 4 hours to fulfill online orders, shelve, price, etc, though remaining unopen to the public.
    I am not comfortable with this. My understanding is that this goes against the orders from the governor. Does anyone have any more understanding of if that is the case?
    So far, this seems optional, and I will not be volunteering to go in, but I’d like to know if this something I should pushing back against.

    1. mf*

      The CA Stay at Home order is in fact mandatory and it says that only business defined as “essential” may stay open. Any business that are not defined as essential (including all retail stores, like bookstores) *have* to close. If you go to the link below, you can view the actual order itself.

      I believe I read that originally, the governor said that the order wouldn’t be enforced with fines and fees, but that’s starting to change in some areas on a municipal level (San Jose and Santa Monica are now levying fines).

      Whether you can/should push back depends on your relationship with your manager and how likely this would effect your standing as an employee. But I can confirm that yes, this does violate the orders from the governor.

  80. Observer*

    OP, I’m kind of scratching my head here. Are they planning to just not pay people for the hours worked? That’s flat out illegal. And if they are going to be doing that for a lot of people, the WILL get caught out.

    On the other hand if they actually planning to cut hours to save the amount of money they think people are getting, they are losing the labor of their staff. This is like assuming that the only role staff has is to take money, and they don’t actually DO things that the company needs. You are talking about approximately 1- 3 weeks of work here. Can they really afford to not have that many people cut back fro so many hours and still function?

    These guys are NOT going to be getting the government money that will be going to people – they will be cutting their operations in the amount that they think people will be getting. That’s a different and monumentally stupid thing to do.

    I don’t see any way that this ends well for them. Which is about the only good thing about this whole mess. If I were in your position, I think I would be polishing my resume and starting to look for another position. These people are terrible and stupid and I would hope you could find something better eventually.

    1. Mannheim Steamroller*

      No. They’ll pay for all hours worked, but they’ll also reduce hours. If you get $1200, the company will cut $1200 worth of your hours to “capture” your stimulus check.

  81. J.E.*

    The cynic in me is wondering if this will just make companies ramp up A.I. and automation research and implementation. A robot or algorithm doesn’t get sick or need a salary and benefits or have children at home that need care. Some companies may start thinking it’s in their best interest to have as few humans as possible. I know the technology is a ways off, but this could be the catalyst that makes them start throwing money at the research to make it a reality.

  82. ejodee*

    Thanks for this wise use of name and shame. I can only believe this company has plans to gorge from both sides of the trough- maxing their bailouts while gouging their employees as much as they can get away with. This is why a little oversight to the bailouts is a good thing. If you’re tweeting your lawmakers to get their asses moving, make sure you’re as educated as possible on what exactly they’re voting for

  83. Looking*

    Allison, thank you for the number I may use it to get my employer to get their act together. They gave me access to work from home I tried every which way to arrange my schedule so that we would not need a babysitter so we would not expose ourselves but they did not go for it, now we have been potentially exposed because one of the people I hired may have it (they refused test her) so now I have to work from home and I can’t do the in house tasks anyway, it is horrible.

  84. Perpal*

    I have to admit, I’m a little confused. If the company is suffering because they are keeping more people on board than they need with the covid shortages, what is the shame of using the government checks for, effectively, paid time off? It doesn’t sound like they are having the employees work but reducing wages, just not having them work because they have a check to support them for that time?

    1. Jaybeetee*

      It’s a form of double-dipping. There will presumably be other programs to help with the financial problems on the business side. This particular chunk of money is intended to help individuals meet additional expenses, stimulate spending, OR help those who have been laid off or scaled back, not save their employers money. Effectively, it means the business benefits twice, while the employees benefit not at all.

    2. James*

      Imagine if you received a modest inheritance and the company said “You’re getting more money? We’ll cut your hours to match the money you have coming in.” It’s invasive and creepy. The company has ZERO business knowing your personal finances beyond what’s involved in them paying you.

  85. ItsAccrualWorld*

    Alison, is there a list of these companies so we know who to not support? Can we start one?

  86. a passerby*

    How come so many people are capable of being so blankly evil without thinking about it. Like, this is some straight up “banality of evil” kind of crap. Why? How?

    1. Youngin*

      Whats even worse about companies like this is that if they make it through the tough period for not closing, it’ll be seen as a success and lauded for doing it “right” when in reality they treated employees like dirt to get there

  87. Mina, the Company Prom Queen*

    This company is absolutely disgusting. Absolute shame on them. Just…eeeewww. So if they don’t do this, the c-suite won’t be able to buy their extra vacation homes (or whatever)? I definitely want to know what company this is so they don’t get any business from me.

  88. An American(ish) Werewolf in London*

    Here’s a British supermarket that, if what they’ve said in this email I received today is true, is doing it right.

    Supporting our colleagues

    We are fully supporting our team of more than 300,000 Tesco colleagues, many of whom will be affected by this situation personally or will need to care for their own loved ones. The countless messages of gratitude I’ve received are testament to the incredible job they are doing, at a time when our stores have never been busier. Your small gestures and kind words really do go a long way.

    We have almost 3,000 colleagues over the age of 70 and we are fully supporting them, as well as our vulnerable and pregnant colleagues, with 12 weeks’ fully paid absence.

    Colleagues who are in isolation are receiving full pay from their first day of absence, so that nobody finds themselves in a situation where they have to work when unwell.

    To help support our team, we are recruiting an additional 20,000 temporary colleagues. We’ve already appointed 12,500 new colleagues, but we will need more. We are also bringing in 8,000 new colleagues in driving roles, and we are training them as fast as we can.

  89. pandop*

    Scanning through the comments I haven’t seen this, apologies if I have missed it.

    For a UK focus, both Caitlin Moran and Jack Monroe are collecting names (via twitter) of both the good and the bad corporate responses

  90. Still trying to adult*

    There are frankly soooo many companies that don’t deserve my business and thus don’t get it: McD’s, partly because they serve mediocre food at prices higher than the quality warrants, work their line people like dogs, their top executives pull down many many times the average wage of their workers yet there are consistent reports of wage & hour theft (like, clock out, but stay on premises until we need you to clock back in again), and many others.

    CfA – yes, better than average food quality, but they’re still hate-chicken. They’ve tried some adjustments, but there’s still too much anti-LGBTQ for my heart.

    Fire House Subs lost my business when a co-worker’s daughter experienced wage theft; again, that ‘clock out, but stay on premises until we need you to clock back in’ Ummm, no, that’s not right and not legal, and they pull that stunt with young kids who don’t know any better and don’t know how to call out BS.

    I don’t craft so Hobby Lobby doesn’t make any difference for me, but they also lost points for smuggling artifacts (

  91. Happy waitress*

    I work for a popular restaurant in Charleston. It ‘laid off’ 90% of it’s staff, keeping us only on health benefits. We received no severance, no pay whatsoever and those of us that qualify are being denied the use of any PTO we may have. It’s despicable. They encouraged everyone to file for unemployment. In my state, that’s $360/week before taxes and you have to reapply every week for benefits.

    1. Wired Wolf*

      My company did something similar; they are ‘retaining’ us at the minimum they can pay without affecting benefits; it’s been a job and a half applying for UI (which we were told the ‘continuation pay’ would not affect). I have to recertify weekly, still have not seen a payment after 2 weeks, and I don’t think UI quite grasps that I am in fact working zero hours but I’m not looking for FT work now until I know what’s happening with my current job (I am taking online classes). For some reason they sent me a form for a doctor to certify that I am disabled–WTF? I never said I was…

  92. Ginar369*

    I haven’t read all 600+ comments so if this has been answered forgive me. But how will the company know who got a check and how much? I would think that just not telling them might be effective. It has to be against the law for them to ask?

    1. Amaranth*

      I’m guessing they plan to just apply the standard amount across the board, which is about as well-reasoned as the rest of their plan.

  93. Notme*

    Just heard through the grapevine (aka a family member) that Burger King is telling staff that they’re reducing hours and cutting all pay by 10% in response to the stimulus checks

  94. Kara*

    Question! Does anyone know if it’s legal if you’re an exempt employee and your employer plans to absorb your check not because of deducted hours, but simply because you’re receiving the check? My employer just emailed all of us saying that we can expect a $1200 paycut because of the stimulus checks.

    1. Mannheim Steamroller*

      I don’t know if it’s legal for the company to do that, but it IS legal for you to name-and-shame the company for doing it — especially if they cut $1,200 from people who get less than the full amount (or nothing).

  95. Spargle*

    My law firm not only has been actively resisting W@H until this past week, they sent out a memo when the schools closed encouraging parents to bring their kids into the office, where they could hang out in a separate room, unsupervised, while the parents worked.

    Please note that every single person in this firm works on a remote desktop system, even though we all work in the office. Also, along the lines of the Big Brother software, we have been given ever increasing restrictions on what we can and cannot do if we do get remote work access that I spend more time on the new administrative nonsense than I do on my actual work. Honestly, I gave up last week and returned to the office so I could hang on to a scrap of mental health and productivity.

    I would name-and-shame but a) it’s a local firm that wouldn’t make a splash, and b) I need the job, and they just hired a really awful HR person who has been edging out all those who disagree with her. It’s heartbreaking – I loved this firm until about a month ago. Now I’m wishing I could job-hunt.

  96. Mannheim Steamroller*

    Someone called into a radio station in Austin, TX saying this very thing. Could it be the same company, or are multiple employers doing the same thing?

  97. Jojo*

    A stimulus check would go to the employees home. The employer would have no way of knowing who get one or when. It does not go to the employer. Many waitstaff are min. Their parents will get 500 for them. Minors do not get checks with their name on them. Plus, it will come out at tax time.

  98. Jack*

    I think I have to side with the company in question here. The reason for the checks from the government is to replace lost wages, if you accept normal pay AND the government check you are essentially double dipping and profiting from the virus (and taxpayers that foot the bill) and I think that’s unethical.

    1. Shely*

      Absolutely wrong. A stimulus check is meant to stimulate the economy. You don’t think the government realizes many of these checks are being cashed by people who are still working? Imagine if every employer did this, 100% across the board. The economy would not be stimulated even 1%. That’s a total fail on the entire purpose of why these are being sent out.

  99. Angered Accountant*

    That doesn’t seem legal. A) what they are doing is breeching the agreement of work time. You agree for a certain pay in exchange for your time to do the work agreed upon.
    B) That’s basically docking your pay because you got a loan, which is basically what this stimulus is. It’s accounted for on your taxes next year in the way that applies to your sometimes very complicated taxed income. Does this mean they are going to dock your pay because they think you’re getting a tax refund also?
    C) Were they even effected on their bottom line in which they cannot keep the doors open? If so, they should seek the help laid out for them.

    I think they should be brought to the woodshed. Report them for not paying wages to your state government. Do something, just don’t be silent.

  100. Donny G*

    “Regional Acceptance Corporation”… they say they can postpone payments on car payments but finance charges will accrue. That dont help having my balance go up when I need help in this time of need. Name shame, name shame!!!!!! I going to let TMobile live for now but they are next.

  101. RC Smith*

    I work for a huge corporate company and they are doing A similar thing plus, they laid of all hourly staff, increased salary staff hours and decreased Wages for salary Employees. They are based out of Texas. How is this legal????

  102. Bex Bexter*

    Time for US employees to learn how to engage their state Senators and Representatives, the Department of Justice and other regulatory bodies. This is a despicable abuse of workers set to occur under cover of pandemic. Make a business model complaint to your state DOJ and the DOJ where the company headquarters are. DOJs often take up issues of predatory market and business practices, not just matters of theft, though to me this qualifies!

    Likewise, if this is a union shop, head straight to local and national reps. Another regulatory agency is your state bureau of labor and industry. They should offer a confidential process for your complaint.

    Last of all, hold your legislator accountable for being our advocate during these times. “I am your constituent and I vote” is your lead in.

    I find it alarming that this columnist suggest that vulnerable employees take on this risk without advocacy agents involved as consult or as a watchdog appropriately following up on a notice. Good luck.

    1. Bex Bexter*

      OOPS!!! In order to address the federal stimulus call your FEDERAL Senator and Representative. And enlist your STATE legislators to apply a local jurisdictional inquiry

  103. Ceccily*

    Not legal. Its intended to remove hesitation from SICK covid employee contemplating wkg anyway!. To not lose pay: those laid off now or future…those losing tips…gig workers…Or for those already quarantined, sick, and possibly IN FUTURE ditto ( get sick 2 mos from now). Bill states, by not laying off n paying while gone, gov refunds corp dollar for dollar. No loss there. The corps excluded from this mandatory sickpay scheme have more than 50 employees…they assumed over 50 E already had sickpay but loophole’s big. Gov check is considered ER pay lest your employer falls thru loopholes no sick pay. ( burgerking for example). If you signed it you could be flucked..bring to attorney. No employer may mind your private biz -of what checks you may receive outside of work…-ny would throw a hissy fit.thats theft and invasion of privacy to be speculating your amount.. . btw i can easily picture now the clamoring vultures whining for bailouts from gov (wells fargo just got one!)… If they act like that internally.

  104. Ceccilia*

    Nutshell…federal relief already went out trillions to corps…sickpay is gov guaranteed dollar for dollar to corp…no loss…but personal? No way. Cant invade your life that way drooling.

  105. Ceccilia*

    By the way…in oklahoma…my kids burgerking job manager was freaking when he got covid briefly…putting in the screws to force him to come in sick! This corp pays no sickpay and bathroom breaks must be begged for…zero time to have lunch 8 hr day#!!!!!….& hes never been absent nor late over year now. (First job). Its astonishing. I put my foot down with her and kept him home 2 full weeks just to be sure. Shes actually making up to persuade kids there…must bring doc note stating neg…ok has zero test kits and her corporate states untrue well aware not doable.

  106. Marie*

    I would turn those companies up to whistleblowers, I’m sure they will benefit from the stimulus package, bu the way of government loans for payroll, and any other company benefits. That is redicouls that any company would take advantage of such a devastating situation, by penalizing people, for an unwarranted situation. I’m embarrassed to say any company would even think of such a saddened and disturb by reading such a thing. My God What is our world coming to, To take advantage of it workers that keep the wheels working for any company.

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