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St. Vincent de Paul employees claim mistreatment; director responds

KEZI 9 News has received multiple calls and emails from employees who have expressed their concerns.

Posted: Mar 29, 2020 7:30 PM
Updated: Mar 30, 2020 12:28 PM

LANE COUNTY-- After St. Vincent de Paul closed its retail stores due to orders from Gov. Kate Brown, thrift store employees are speaking out, saying they were left without work and are outraged by how the nonprofit is handling the situation.

RELATED: TEMPORARY HOMELESS SHELTERS MAY HELP SLOW SPREAD OF COVID-19

KEZI 9 News has received multiple calls and emails from employees who have expressed their concerns about being pressured into working at the temporary homeless shelter that St. Vincent de Paul operates at the Lane Events Center.

Elijah Hubner is speaking out on behalf of his partner who worked at a St. Vinnie’s retail store. He said he was outraged to hear the phone calls between the nonprofit and his partner.

Hubner said that his partner, as well as other employees he has spoken to, received calls being told to work at the shelter -- without any prior training or experience.

“Their mission statement clearly states that they're here to help the community, and it's like they don't see their employees as part of that community," Hubner said.

Hubner said that his partner received a threat that the unemployment office would be called and that her benefits would be revoked.

Since the story aired on KEZI 9 News on Sunday night, multiple employees have also reached out to back up these claims.

Hubner said that the nonprofit did not ask the necessary questions regarding those they are looking to hire to work at the shelter, such as if they were ill or could put anyone at risk.

He said that his partner had a 102-degree fever when receiving the calls and felt pressured by St. Vincent de Paul.

"My partner specifically has no experience working with the community, working with homeless people, working with shelters, so I can't see that they're calling specific people who they think will be good for the job," Hubner said.

Terry McDonald is the executive director for St. Vincent de Paul and said that he wants to clarify what was being asked.

“We offer the positions to them, but that does not mean they have to accept it at all,” McDonald said. “Obviously I can't compel anything and I'm not going to try."

When it comes to filing for unemployment, McDonald said he would like to clear something up.

“If there is any confusion about any benefits, I think people should recognize that the state does the denial or acceptance, not St. Vincent de Paul,” McDonald said.

McDonald said St. Vincent de Paul respects if someone feels the shelter position is too unfamiliar or if it is jeopardizing to them.

"If we are able to continue on, we hope that those people are able to come back and be the good employees that they were before."

McDonald said he hopes community members who are looking for work will seek the positions at the shelter.

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