COVID-19 has revealed a lot about us and our culture. Priorities have been shuffled, and new perspectives have led many to reevaluate how they see the world and the people in it.
As unfortunate as the circumstances are, it is quite evident that everyone has been affected in one way or another, even celebrities. Sure, we’ve had some winners in the court of public opinion during the pandemic, but, for every Ariana Grande, it seems we’ve had multiple Evangeline Lilys.
While it remains to be seen how long these revelations will last over time, COVID-19 has provided us with a powerful lens on how celebrities act and react during a crisis. Undoubtedly, many of the coronavirus missteps will be forgiven. It may take some time to clear our memories of that deaf “Imagine” cover, but what about the stars that mistreated your employees?
Despite their countless millions (and even billions) of dollars, the famous business owners on this list have been accused of unfairly abandoning staff members with little or no respect for their financial security.
Now being a lousy employer can be a public relations nightmare for a celebrity at best. During a global crisis, you risk being a professional suicide. However, for the A-listers on this list, the saving grace might be that they are not alone. Here are the celebrities who left their employees out in the cold during the pandemic.
Dismissing the Queen of Nice
Through her incredible charity work and her phrase “Be kind to one another,” Ellen DeGeneres has been considered the “Queen of Nice.” But, when Ellen DeGeneres’ show stopped in mid-March, everything was changed. In her first post-hiatus episode of the show, filmed in her multimillion-dollar mansion, Ellen compared isolation to “being in jail”. Despite continuing with an auction, fans were unhappy with the callous comparisons.
That was the big news until a Variety story came out about the TV presenter’s treatment of her main stage staff “of more than 30 employees.” According to the piece, the team had not heard from producers about their jobs for more than a month, including details about pay, hours, or health.
When it was time to film from DeGeneres’ house, the team was not called to work. Instead, the program allegedly used a non-union tech company. The official word, when it finally came, was that only four core members would be retained for remote filming. The rest would receive a 60% salary reduction. According to Variety, several other talk shows have kept their staff salaries, including Jimmy Kimmel Live, whose host has paid his actors himself.
As the controversy surrounding the comedian-turned-host’s decisions only continues to grow, it turns out that even her former bodyguard has spoken up, revealing that DeGeneres is nothing like public think she is.
Hell’s Kitchen Freezes
On March 19, celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay revealed that each of his London restaurants would be closed on March 21. In an Instagram post, Ramsay wrote: “While we don’t know when we will reopen, what we do know is supporting each other at this terribly challenging time, we will outdo it more than ever!”
Although the UK government unveiled a job support package to encourage employers to retain their staff during these unprecedented times, Ramsay and his management team reportedly decided to terminate the employment contracts of more than 500 employees.
According to The Daily Mail, the large group of chefs, waiters, and other restaurant staff were informed by letter that they would be paid until April 17, but their jobs were not guaranteed to return when the respective restaurants returned to open. The decision earned Ramsay some criticism.
Food critic Marina O’Loughlin turned to Twitter to announce the move. “Once again, a day when billionaires won’t put their hands in their pockets while little ones do their best for their staff,” she wrote.
It wasn’t just strangers who hit Ramsay either. Party chef Anca-Cosmina Toropu, one of those who lost their jobs, also took a photo. “It is a shame to see how the company he worked for and gave everything he had for 2 years threw him away as if he were nothing but a piece of shit,” she wrote in an Instagram post.
Spicy reception for Posh
The former Spice Girl and wife of legendary David Beckham, Victoria Beckham, was forced to downplay the operations of her company, Victoria Beckham Limited when COVID-19 restrictions took over the UK. According to El Sol, the fashion company chose the license of 25 out of 120 workers, taking advantage of the government’s licensing scheme.
A source told The Sun, “Like many, Victoria has had to reluctantly resign staff members. It was not a decision he made lightly, but, for the long-term stability and profitability of the company, it had to be done.” The source added that Beckham “had even lost his own salary to lead from the front.”
According to Perth now, the fashion icon decided to shore up the 80% license package with an additional 20% so that his employer’s pay remains constant during downtime. But not everyone was happy with that decision, especially those who took note of the Beckham family’s reported net worth of over £ 300 million.
Piers Morgan, for example, tweeted his disapproval , stating, “Why are you taking money from taxpayers that the NHS desperately needs, and does NOT need, to give your staff permission and to shore up your bankrupt business?” After criticism, Beckham announced that she was reversing the decision, saying The Guardian “These are difficult times and difficult decisions and we don’t always do well; all we can say is that we are trying to protect our business and our staff. ”
Jeremy Jacobs is on thin ice
Jeremy Jacobs, the billionaire founder and president of Delaware North, the billionaire organization that owns the Boston Bruins and the TD Garden where they play, took an unorthodox approach to provide financial assistance to the team and team in the arena.
According to NBC Sports Boston, Jacobs and his company were the last team in the league to step forward and take care of their staff. Due to the late response, some of the Bruins players stepped forward to raise money for people during uncertain times.
When the management response finally came, Delaware North announced that its 68 full-time staff would be on leave, receiving one week of pay and eight weeks of benefits. For part-time staff, the company created a $ 1.5 million fund for them to use.
According to the Boston Globe, however, that money is only available to staff when the last six home games of the year are officially canceled, a decision that may never come. For many critics, a man with an estimated net worth of more than $ 3 billion at the helm of one of America’s largest private companies needed to put together a much stronger and more thoughtful package. Like the Boston Globe In a nutshell, “The Bruins have barely done the least during this crisis.”
Trimmed buffalo wings
Jeremy Jacobs of the Boston Bruins was not the only NHL owner who did not meet expectations in his response to the crisis. Owners of the Buffalo Sabers and Buffalo Bills organizations, Kim and Terry Pegula, took a similar approach. They decided to wait and see what would happen to the remaining hours before taking care of their staff.
“From now on, we expect the games to be rescheduled,” Pegula Sports and Entertainment said in a statement to El Atlético regarding their decision. “We are evaluating the next steps if the games are canceled.” In other words, staff will be paid if the games are officially played or canceled.
Las Pegulas also made waves as they finished their hospitality staff positions. According to El atlético, their jobs were not guaranteed to be there when the pandemic restrictions were lifted. “As a valuable asset to our hotel family when business returns to normal, we encourage you to return and apply for a vacant position. He will be one of the first to rejoin our teams,” the termination letters read.
It wasn’t just lower-level staff, either. The company also laid off 21 employees, several of whom were some of the longest-serving executives at the company. Although they said the shooting was unrelated to COVID-19, the timing was particularly strange, to say the least, wasn’t it?
Moby’s charity crisis
In 2015, musician Moby opened a vegan restaurant in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. According to Los Angeles Magazine, with a reported net worth at the time of over $ 30 million, the celebrity owner announced that all proceeds would be donated to charity after it opened.
“Little Pine is an extension of my beliefs, which is why I have decided to donate 100% of the restaurant’s profits to animal welfare organizations,” he said at the time. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the restaurant to close its doors, Moby’s charitable spirit was pushed to the limit.
According to Eater Los Angeles, employees were left in the dark after their services stopped. Supposedly a month passed before staff knew the restaurant was officially on “indefinite hiatus.” Full-time employees were fired and their health care coverage was terminated.
As one employee put it, “I don’t have coverage in the middle of a global pandemic because my healthcare has been canceled by a billionaire.” According to some, it took weeks even to get confirmation that they would receive their earned vacation pay. After receiving a lot of vitriol on social media, Moby sent an email to his employees. “I fully accept that the closure could have been handled much better,” he wrote, “and for that, I take responsibility and again apologize.”
Skinning a famous chef
The famous chef and restaurateur, Bobby Flay, has five restaurants, a television show (albeit one that some viewers have dismissed as fake) and one of the most recognized names in the industry.
After being forced to close their restaurants during COVID-19 restrictions, the restaurateur’s staff were left without financial security for the foreseeable future. To help them, the billionaire reached out to people for help through a GoFundMe campaign. By vowing to match every dollar raised up to $ 100,000 of his own money, Flay may have set a target on critics’ backs for seeking public funds.
“The loyal, creative, and hard-working people in my fine dining restaurants are in great need. The onset of this pandemic has literally crushed their ability to make a living almost overnight. Please find in your hearts to give what you can”, he wrote on the campaign page.
The answer was probably not what Flay expected. According to The Daily Dot, many Twitter users criticized the incredibly wealthy chef for asking for help to support companies that earn so much annually.
To make things gloomier, Flay even went out of his way to silence some of his critics. As one Twitter user wrote, “Are you too greedy to pay your valued employees to survive during a pandemic without donations from the general public? You are kidding, right?” He then followed up with a screenshot of a chef’s now blocked Twitter account.
Billionaire Elon Musk and his company Tesla have encountered good and bad publicity during the pandemic. The company committed its engineers to build ventilators to help COVID-19 patients, but Musk also panicked “dumb” and demanded that the leaders “FREE AMERICA NOW“.
When it comes to the company’s employment measures during the pandemic, Tesla has also been a bit mixed up there. According to Forbes, the company announced a series of wage cuts to survive downtime. “This is a shared sacrifice across the company that will allow us to progress during these difficult times,” Valerie Workman, Human Resources officer, said in an email.
Vice president and senior salaries would be reduced by 30%, directors would be reduced by 20%, and all other wages for American employees would be reduced by 10%. That sounds reasonable on the surface, but it’s the handling of the more than 10,000 employees “who can’t work at home and haven’t been assigned to critical jobs on-site”.
That caused some surprise, especially considering Musk’s surprising personal wealth. That staff was fired without any pay, although they managed to maintain the health benefits. In other words, “Elon Musk is speeding toward a $ 750 million payday, even as Tesla employees are being hit by pay cuts and hundreds of hourly workers are fired.”