PORTLAND, Ore. — McMenamins workers may still be waiting for their final paychecks, 10 days after the popular Northwest brewpub and hotel chain laid off thousands of employees.
In a company email shared with The Oregonian/OregonLive, McMenamins said it would not make payroll Friday and would not pay wages “until at least Wednesday.”
The email, sent Thursday afternoon, also asked workers who received paper checks to wait until Wednesday to cash them. The delayed pay comes at an especially critical time for workers, because many rent and utility payments will also come due Wednesday, the first day of April.
The stalled paychecks signal the depth of McMenamins’ financial woes after governors in Oregon and Washington ordered bars and restaurants to close to quell the spread of the coronavirus. The Portland-based chain responded quickly March 17 by closing nearly all of its properties and laying off “almost everyone” -- about 3,000 employees -- from the bars, restaurants and hotels it operates.
The email does not say how many people McMenamins still employs. However, the message makes clear no one will be paid at least for several days.
“We are doing everything we can to get this nailed down next week and to get payroll into your accounts as quickly as we possibly can," the email said. “If you receive a check in the mail, we ask that you please wait until at least Wednesday to cash it.”
McMenamins released a statement about the delay to The Oregonian/OregonLive on Friday.
“Like so many businesses, we at McMenamins are reaching our limit as the pandemic continues,” the company said. "Yesterday, we let our employees who are on temporary leave know that they will not receive their paychecks as planned today, and that paychecks are delayed until at least Wednesday. Our employees are our number one priority. We are doing everything we can to work through these issues as quickly as possible and we appreciate everyone’s understanding.
“We will be paying all of our employees and will continue to pay the benefits of our temporarily laid off staff. We are communicating directly with our employees with any updates. We, along with the rest of the hospitality industry, are experiencing unprecedented challenges but we will get through this and we hope that everyone is staying safe during this uncertain time.”
The company email shared with The Oregonian/OregonLive said executives were working both to pay employees quickly and to stay afloat “so that McMenamins is here for you when this pandemic is over.”
Oregon law requires employers to pay workers final wages within one business day after a layoff if the job cuts are expected to last at least 35 days. In the email, McMenamins said it would open no sooner than April 16, which would mark 30 days after it made the drastic job cuts.
The McMenamins layoffs came as restaurant and hospitality employers cut tens of thousands of jobs in Oregon alone last week. New claims for unemployment insurance soared last week to an all-time high in Oregon. Claims are likely to rise again this week, with the implementation of the governor’s more restrictive “stay home” order.
In its email Thursday, McMenamins encouraged employees to follow its social media accounts to learn when the restaurants would reopen. The message ended with optimism.
“We will reopen as soon as we feel it is safe and we are able to!"
Mike Rogoway and Andre Meunier of The Oregonian/OregonLive contributed to this report.
-- Molly Young firstname.lastname@example.org
This article was originally published by The Oregonian/Oregonlive, one of more than a dozen news organizations throughout the state sharing their coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak to help inform Oregonians about this evolving health issue.