Some employees at B&H Photo Video are afraid of losing their jobs recently, claiming it was because they reported unsafe working conditions during the coronavirus outbreak.
After complaining about the company’s handling of the epidemic in March, including indoor prayer services for trans-religious Jewish workers, some workers found what looked like a post about their online work. They suspect that if they are part of the company’s inner circle of Hasidic Jewish employees who say they are treated specially, they will be in a position that they cannot be.
“They have definitely used COVID as a beacon to get rid of some of us,” said Dan Wagner, a nearly six-year veteran of New York’s renowned tech retailer known for its conveyor belt system moving goods around three floors. Large store on West 34th Street and Ninth Avenue.
Wagner, a professional photographer who worked as a product description writer at B&H, says he thinks he wasn’t asked to work again after a fuss about the daily prayer service held at the company’s lunch facts in March.
“I told HR that people shouldn’t get together,” Wagner added, adding that B&H later announced in a newsletter that two workers attending the prayer had died of the virus in late March.
Wagner also continued to ask B&H for information, knowing that a fellow employee on another floor had been infected with the virus. “I think they retaliated against me for simply asking if I had close contact with someone with COVID.”
William Cannon, who is also a B&H content writer, says he thinks he’s not coming back because he asked for permission to work from home in March. “I said [HR] I feel unsafe in the office, and I’m taking a paved elevator and working too close to others,” Cannon said.
Cannon, who had diabetes, had to refrigerate in the room where insulin was stored, so he was anxious at the prayer meeting. “There were 60 people in it, and I had to get past them to get to the refrigerator,” he said. “It was uncomfortable.”
B&H told Cannon to use paid leave until it came up with plans to work from home. “B&H was very slow to take the epidemic seriously,” he said. “I had no plans, so I spent all the PTO work.”
Cannon and Wagner 400 other workers -About 20% of B&H employees-April 27th. The company has notified its employees via email that they will be paid and receive medical benefits for 2.5 days by May 31st.
Canon has been unable to pay for insulin pills since last June, and he had to share insulin with his diabetic uncle who lives with him.
Then, after months of disconnection from the company in August, Cannon saw B&H’s Indeed.com post for mobile tech consumer writers. The post also asked for gaming expertise and Cannon says his manager knows he owns it.
He said about the job posting, “We’ve taken this as a way to get rid of those we don’t want. “It was so sudden without tracking. It seemed like a way to get fired without telling you that you were fired.”
Meanwhile, Wagner saw two lists for his job. Photographer on company website, Last October 15th.
B&H didn’t tell the guys what the plans were and they didn’t ask, but the mega store reopened on July 1st.
After the trail came down, Wagner emailed the B&H manager to ask what percent of the fired employees were Hasidic, and the company did not state that. Wagner, Jewish but not Hasidic, said he complained to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, claiming that B&H discriminated against non-Hasidic employees.
African-American Cannon said it was also considering reporting discrimination against B&H.
Wagner declined to share a copy of his complaint with The Post, but shared an email with the agency informing him that he had submitted it.
B&H, which opened in 1973 by Blimie and Herman Schreiber, did not comment on the job listings or Wagner’s discrimination complaints, except for the words “welcome the results of the EEOC.”
Jeff Gerstel, the company’s chief marketing officer, said in a statement: “B&H was one of the last retailers to hire employees.
“We are proud to be able to get our serene staff back to work every week as we go through this difficult time. We cannot respond to individual employee issues.”
Wagner claims that B&H’s Hasidic Jewish employees receive special benefits to help them get to and from work, including a company-sponsored shuttle bus.
Shuttles that cost employees $2.75 per ride are not available for non-Hasidic employees, he said.
B&H didn’t comment on their role in providing buses, but someone close to the company mentioned that in August Forbes ranked this retailer as the 14th Best Employer in New York City for 2020.
This popular retailer has been sued twice by the federal government for discriminatory practices. Most recently, the Labor Department sued in 2016 for being bullied after hiring only Hispanic men as new employees in a former Brooklyn Navy warehouse. Unsanitary conditions, including non-functional bathrooms Separate from use by non-Hispanic workers in the facility. The complaint also accused the company of not hiring female, black, and Asian workers in its Brooklyn facility and has since been moved to New Jersey.
The family-owned business said at the time that it had “categorically rejected” the charges in 2016 but had paid $3.2 million to settle the case and “avoid the distractions of the lawsuit”.
Legal experts like Carolyn Richmond say they have been warning employers since April to take precautions to avoid discrimination when re-hiring retired workers.
“The problem is why employers simply don’t hire employees who have been fired because of COVID restrictions,” said Richmond, president of Fox Rothschild LLP’s Hospitality Working Group. “