CHICAGO (CBS) — On Thursday, we will get another idea of how many people are out of work when the State of Illinois releases its weekly unemployment numbers.
Meanwhile, many people are still trying to navigate the Illinois Department of Employment Security system – a big gotcha that could cost people a lot of money.
And one woman, who did qualify, is now afraid she will get kicked off because she refused a job that she feared could put her health in danger.
Aramark employs thousands of people in the Chicago area, many of them foodservice workers at stadiums, schools, and hospitals. Now, they are out of work because of the stay-at-home order.
“It does stress me out,” said the woman, who asked not to be identified and to have her voice disguised.
She said an Aramark human resources representative called her this week, wanting her to trade her food server duties for janitorial work – in a hospital.
“And I’m like, well, I’m not a janitor, and I just don’t feel comfortable doing that with the coronavirus – working in the hospital,” the woman said.
She told Aramark no, and now she is terrified she could lose her unemployment benefits.
“They said, ‘OK, well, since you don’t work, we’re going to put it down in your file that you did not accept this job,’” the woman said, “and I was like, ‘Whoa!’”
“It’s unfortunate that the employer would take this position with her during what we’re all going through,” said employment attorney Mike Leonard. “The good news is the law is on her side.”
That is notably because of the good cause clause, which should protect the Aramark worker even though she turned down work in this case.
“The Good Cause inquiry goes into such factors as whether your health and safety would be endangered by accepting the assignment. And it also goes into important factors – your prior work experience and training,” Leonard said. “So all of those factors are strongly in her favor.”
Leonard also questions Aramark’s apples-to-oranges request.
“I think there an ethical concern here, because it’s almost like the company is playing a game of chicken – assigning her to a job where she clearly is not qualified to do, and may put her in danger,” he said.
We shared the employee’s concern with Aramark spokesman David Freireich. He said the company believes the allegations are without merit, adding they are contrary to Aramark’s policies and practices.
But the employee we spoke to said she is not the only one who got the same call.