Some workers have to wait months for unemployment

Some workers have to wait months for unemployment

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - More than 150,000 North Carolinians have applied for unemployment over the last two weeks. But some employees for one of the biggest food service groups in the country, with operations in Charlotte, say they’re not eligible for those benefits right now.

Like any employee who works on a college campus Sharon McPhatter’s work revolves around the school calendar. But she’s actually an employee for Compass Group, a food service company with operations in Charlotte and she’s based at Johnson and Wales.

“We’re out during the summer, we work nine months so during the summer time we sign up for unemployment benefits,” McPhatter said.

For fifteen years McPhatter has followed this regimen, filing for unemployment insurance in May. But this year she was released from work early because of the COVID-19 pandemic. When she went to file for unemployment insurance she was told she’s not eligible until May.

“The lady told me I had exhausted all my benefits from last year and right now there wasn’t a plan in place for people who used all their benefits up from year to year,” McPhatter said.

The North Carolina Department of Commerce says that employees like McPhatter are still within their “benefit year” which doesn’t expire until 52 weeks from when they first filed.

Seasonal workers and unemployment during the coronavirus epidemic

Despite Governor Roy Cooper easing many restrictions for access to unemployment insurance there would need to be an extension of benefits granted in order for McPhatter and others to gain benefits now.

Representative Chaz Beasley told us that lawmakers are working to rectify these issues. Ideally he says they can work with state agencies to get these grey areas sorted out as soon as possible.

“Those of us that are in the general assembly are already working hard on this issue,” Beasley said

“I know that a lot of restrictions were lifted by the governor but I guess this wasn’t included so that’s when I tried to reach back with Compass,” McPhatter said.

McPhatter showed WBTV communications with human relations for Compass Group but she says her attempts to reach out got her nowhere.

WBTV reached out to Compass but did not receive a response by publication of this article.

“I still feel like Compass, being one of the leading, largest food service management groups, they should do more for their employees and I feel like they’re not doing what they should do,” McPhatter said.

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