baltimoresun.com

« 'Food Paradise' to film Bad Decisions' Bacon & Beer Happy Hour tonight | Main | Man shot, killed at Queen's Hookah »

July 1, 2010

ESPN Zone layoff protest? Really?

espn zone

Laid off employees from the now-closed ESPN Zone will still be getting paid until Aug. 15. After that, they'll get a severance package based on their time with the company. Apparently, this is not enough for some of them.

More than 20 of the 140 former ESPN Zone employees protested the layoffs, saying they violated federal workplace protection laws, according to this piece by The Sun's Gus G. Sentementes.

The employees are claiming ESPN Zone did not give them enough notice before closing. 

Let's all take a deep breath and a step back and have a look at this situation ...

According to Gus' article, the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act "requires companies with more than 50 employees to give 60 days' notice before closing. ESPN Zone did file a WARN notice letting state officials know that workers would lose their jobs as of June 16, according to the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation."

Even if they did violate this federal law, I'd like to point out the small but important point that ESPN Zone is paying them for two months after it has already closed. And then, on top of that, they get a severance package. Good lord!

There's no doubt, the service industry is brutal. Bars, restaurants and clubs close all the time without notice. Frequently, servers and bar backs show up for work one day and the door is padlocked. Do they get severance, or two months' pay? Typically, they're lucky if they get the money that's already owed them.

I'm not saying this is right. I'm just saying a whole lot of much, much shadier business practices happen at bars and restaurants all the time. Protesting something like this seems a little out of hand.

(Baltimore Sun photo by Algerina Perna)


Follow Midnight Sun on Facebook and Twitter @midnightsunblog
Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:46 PM | | Comments (30)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Comments

Sam, I'm wondering how for someone like a server or bartender, they calculated their pay. Since they all make far below miniumum wage and depend on tips - 2 months base pay seems pretty stingy. They lost the ability to earn what they otherwise could have through tips.

Now you know how I feel;) I feel like they probably have the same lawyer that I know of. Sounds like a class action lawsuit to me. Some lawyer is probably taking this on a contigency basis, ESPN is the motherlode. They will sue and win money then collect unemployment for 2 years while either sitting on their butt or working under the table somewhere else. Ugh!

Curiously, I tried several times to leave a comment at the original article, but the Sun web gurus either miscoded the link to comments or just decided comments weren't needed.

Let's just say that *I* never got any deal like that when I lost jobs. Nor has anyone else I've known..... save for government workers....... Most of my other commentary would get censored.......

*sitting on butt Yall don't get them types of deals? Even the irst 2 rounds of buyouts at the sun were gracious.

Oh, is anybody hiring? I only have a few months left in my package.

Now you know how I feel;) I feel like they probably have the same lawyer that I know of. Sounds like a class action lawsuit to me. Some lawyer is probably taking this on a contigency basis, ESPN is the motherlode. They will sue and win money then collect unemployment for 2 years while either sitting on their butt or working under the table somewhere else. Ugh!

Hell hath no fury like a bar owner scorned.

They didn't mention that their health insurance is continued for 8 months under terms, not COBRA.

@Abject Disaster- most definitely;)

I understand that many of them have already been re-hired by by Dick's Last Resort that opened in the Power Plant this week.

ESPN is a gigantic, multinational, multiplatform, culturally homogenizing display of American greed and excess.

But yeah, those servers are jerks. They should be happy to have been laid off so Disney stock shares will go up a tiny bit for a tiny while.

Yeah, two bucks an hour for two months is hardly enough to buy lunch. I'm not feeling envious of this severance package.

Zink,

Actually the Legal Aid Bureu, Inc. is representing them at this juncture. They're doing it for free, as they are funded with our tax dollars and fees. So all of us are helping them battle the evil ABC Corporation. I hope this makes you feel better.

Legally I don't think this is a very strong case, but I don't practice employment law, so I'll leave that up to others.

Let's see... they're paid to stay home and they protest? WTF? If they earn tips, then then need customers. Maybe if they did a better job more customers would have returned. The employee takes a risk too when accepting one job over another. If they're good/clean, they won't have any problems finding some place else to work. If they are not good or not clean - guess what? The market sucks for finding employers desperate for employees. That's the breaks... and has been so since 2006.Maybe you could work for organized crime? You know, be a union member some place.

Legally they have to be compensated at least minimum wage - as it is when actively working in a restaurant. Tips and wages have to equal at least $7.25/hr or a restaurant has to compensate the difference.

I cant see it being any different in this situation if they are trying to abide by the wage laws.

No its not as much as what most of them were probably making - but it's better than nothing!

When is ESPN zone is going to reopen and I haven't been to ESPN zone in two years and I really miss going to ESPN Zone.

With the information provided (without all of the information) no one can make a call regarding the strength of the claims... but under the WARN act employers may be required to provide 60 days of pay... so ESPN is not "giving" those folks anything... and regardless now is not a great time to be unemployed....

I guess what you're really saying is that service industry people aren't really worthy of decent treatment, so they shouldn't expect it, even if they've worked there for 10+ years.

But I bet you felt differently when your co-workers were getting axed last year. Is it because writing the news is a more noble pursuit?

Just because we expect service workers to be treated like dirt doesn't mean it should be so.

Quit whining. Collect your severance. Go out and get another job. Bunch of cry babies. Too many people want something for nothing. What ever happened to getting knocked down and then brushing yourself off and moving forward?

Oban, there's getting treated like dirt and then there is filing a frivolous friggin lawsuit against ESPN. Sam isn't saying anything negative against servers or the restaurant industry, please reread his post. ESPN gave everybody severance pay, health insurance and God knows what else. You know that if ESPN gave 60 days of noptice that the staff would've have either stopped showing up, stopped caring and stealing everything. ESPN did everything right in this situation, they did not keave their employees out to dry. The employees should be appreciative, it was a nice long run, but it has to come to an end sometime.10+ years, good for yoy, that will look great on your resume, man up and look for a job instead of FREE money with this lawsuit. Dick's Last Resort is opening and I am sure that every other restaurant in the harbor is hiring as well. If you are a good worker, you will do well. Now I got to go to work. Tell 'em how it is Sam!

The package isn't really a package. It is in fact 2 months of pay but at the end of the 2 months, NOTHING. The only ones who will get something is those who have vacation left over. I think they are bitter because we all worked together over 12 years and it's hard when you've become a family. Disney has a severance plan in place but they went outside of the guidelines and reduced what they would pay their managers. They were not in financial ruin. THey simply didn't want to have restaurants outside of the parks and resorts anymore. They've been laying off workers since 2008

@former employee- so you are saying that you got laid off with a severance package of 2 months salary. Sounds pretty good to me. A lot of people get nothing. As Abject Disaster once said, What you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

They have 2 months of pay, not counting unemployment to find another restaurant job.

@Oban and Tif -- Actually, two month's pay plus a severance package is significantly more than the Sun buyouts of years past, if I remember correctly. But the last round of cuts here were layoffs, not buyout packages, if we're splitting hairs here.

Did you work there? Do you know the entire story? Everything isn't as it appears to be...There's very little objectivity in some of these posts, but...EVERYONE HAS A CRITIC...

"@former employee- so you are saying that you got laid off with a severance package of 2 months salary. Sounds pretty good to me. A lot of people get nothing. As Abject Disaster once said, What you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

They have 2 months of pay, not counting unemployment to find another restaurant job." <--- FOOLISH PEOPLE SAY FOOLISH THINGS - This entire post is FOOLISH and JUDGMENTAL CRAP!! And then you have the audacity to add "may God have mercy on your soul." WOW!! LOL

@BeObjective- what's your point.

Show me the darkside, or your side for that matter.

so are comments edited here? b/c that wasn't all of my post?? interesting...that should be stated somewhere if that's the case....

@anon - "what's your point" - Be Objective rather than judgmental... I'll restate "There's very little objectivity in some of these posts, but...EVERYONE HAS A CRITIC..." most ppl think they KNOW something when they really don't and you CLEARLY don't.

I would like to use a few choice words for some of you...but I'm sure they would be deleted... I "was" a game tech there for 8 years. The game service was a contract with Disney. I do not get a severance package from Disney or the contracting company. So how is it FAIR for me to have worked there for 8 years and get NOTHING...!!?? I may not even get vacation pay owed to me. So yea I'm all for this lawsuit. Besides Disney seldom ever goes to court. They always settle out of court.

@game tech- get a job!!!!

@BeObjective-once again, what is your point.

Sam doesn't edit comments, we already know that, tell us what you want to say.

Game service was a contract with Disney- I "think" means that you didn't work for Disney so they owe you NOTHING.

I am trying to be nice about everything,, but it just seems to me that Disney did everybody very well. If you don't think so, then please say what they did wrong. I can care less about Disney, however I respect small/ large business and my heart doesn't bleed.

that's, that's that's, that's, that's all foks..........

@anon - clearly...ya just don't get it...

"I am trying to be nice about everything" -LOL Now that's funny esp w/the comments from your original post...

For the lesson in objectivity re-read Samantha's post.

Thanks

The ONLY thing OWED to anyone who worked there is a paycheck for hours worked. Nothing else!

Why do so many people feel that they're owed something when they've already been paid for their services?

I am also a former employee of the company with several years of service. Espn Zone didn't only consist of bartenders and servers, there's also the departments behind the scenes such as accounting, Human Resources, etc. Personally I am not a fan of the lawsuits and protest. I see this as a fresh start elsewhere. To the person that said we get 8 months of healthcare, our healthcare ends with our employment unless we can afford to pay it otherwise. There also will NOT be an additional severance based on years of service. We all were placed on administrative leave and will be separated from the company on Aug 15. The only individuals that will receive an additional pay is those that have remaining vacation time. Two months of pay may seem like a lot for some but not for those who've had that hours cut severely over the past 6 months since that is what they are basing our severance pay on. To be honest I was slightly embarassed when I saw some of the protest footage and those few employees do not speak for us all. I understand their anger but in the end I don't think they really have grounds for a lawsuit. We all were like family there, so just imagine your family suddenly being torn apart. You'd be angry as well, but life doesn't stop there! I say use that same effort put in protesting to find a new job.

When is most ESPN Zone restaurants is going to reopen 2010 or 2011?

Post a comment

All comments must be approved by the blog author. Please do not resubmit comments if they do not immediately appear. You are not required to use your full name when posting, but you should use a real e-mail address. Comments may be republished in print, but we will not publish your e-mail address. Our full Terms of Service are available here.

Please enter the letter "o" in the field below:
About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at erik.maza@baltsun.com. Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.
-- ADVERTISEMENT --

Most Recent Comments
Recent tweets
Sign up for FREE nightlife alerts*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for nightlife text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Weekend Watch newsletter
Plan your weekend with baltimoresun.com's best events, restaurant and movie reviews, TV picks and more delivered to you every Thursday for free.
See a sample | Sign up

Photo galleries
Stay connected