Hurricanes president, team owner deny reports of halting pay for full-time employees

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- It was just last week that the Carolina Hurricanes announced a plan to provide some income to part-time PNC arena employees throughout the pandemic. Today, the News and Observer reported that full-time employees of the Hurricanes would cease being paid starting next week. The Hurricanes team owner, Tom Dundon, denies those claims.

"This is not something that's really come up yet so I don't know what happens in the future but as of now, it's just not something we're thinking about. We're trying to figure a whole bunch of other things out," Dundon said.

What the Canes did do Wednesday was send out an email to their non-contract full-timers requiring that they use all available vacation time next week. The email said that employees who were out of vacation would be off without pay but team president Don Waddell told me that's not actually the case.

"From a legal standpoint, you can't force people to take their PTO (paid time off), you could ask them to take their PTO. If you talk to any of my vice presidents they're all in these meetings, we agreed that we're going to pay our people next week."

Dundon added, "Normally people in our business would take their vacations at a different time than this and while we're figuring it all out, we think it makes sense to get that accrued time done and we're paying everybody."

As the email also noted, the team is in uncharted waters. Team expenses amount to $5 to 7 million a month, according to Waddell. He and Dundon are waiting to see what the federal stimulus bill may provide to help.

"Tom doesn't want to lay people off," Waddell said. "We may talk about other situations but we also want to understand this stimulus bill, we also want to understand how does that affect us, do we play a role and maybe we get some tax credits?"

In the meantime, Waddell had these words for nervous employees:

"Since I've been here we've treated employees, I believe very well. If you talk to people that work for us, we've always been very fair and we're going to continue to make sure we take try to take care of them the best we can, the people that make things happen for us."

For Dundon, the Hurricanes are just facet of a larger business empire. Some of those other businesses he says don't offer the same decision-making flexibility when it comes to staffing.

"The Hurricanes, the scale of the staff is much different than some of the other things I'm involved in. It makes it easier to continue on the path we're going down right now."

The e-mail sent to employees from Waddell reads:

"Team members:

First, I hope this note finds you and your loved ones healthy.

As we are in a situation that we have never faced before and things are changing daily, I appreciate how, as a group, we have handled this so far.

As you may know, the government agreed on a stimulus bill last night. Additionally, Wake County has ordered a mandatory shut down of the Arena. Therefore, we have decided to close all components of our business next week and require employees to take PTO (vacation first then personal days only). Sick time cannot be used. Employees that have used all of their vacation and personal time will be off without pay. All employees must enter their vacation or personal time request into the time off system. If a request is not entered, vacation or personal time will not be paid. If an employee has remaining vacation or personal time it must be used. Employees that need to log in to the time off system remotely can do so by going to (redacted) and logging in with their normal network log in credentials.

According to the unemployment guidelines, if your office has a temporary shut down and you lose wages, you may be eligible for benefits under the various COVID-19 relief laws. To find out more information about filing unemployment under COVID-19 relief go to (redacted).

We have been exploring multiple options on how best to take care of our employees while being mindful of the business challenges we face. This extra week gives us the time to understand the new legislation as well as time to make the best decisions on how to proceed as an organization.

Tom Dundon has been very supportive of trying to keep everyone paid and working as much as possible. As we learn more about this new bill and as the situation changes, we will get back to everyone with more information.

Again, we are in uncharted waters and appreciate all you do for us."
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