Under Minnesota law, quitting your job usually means you can't collect unemployment benefits – which could spell trouble for the workers who walked out of Clubhouse Jäger in Minneapolis late last month.
But a group of state lawmakers says those employees should be covered while they seek new jobs.
The staff of the historic North Loop bar quit on Thursday, Aug. 31, following the bombshell revelation that owner Julius DeRoma had donated money to notorious white supremacist David Duke.
"These workers are not out to game the (unemployment insurance) system, but are simply hard-working Minnesotans who made the same decision all of us would have made in that situation," a Monday news release from Rep. Jim Davnie says.
Davnie and seven other DFL House members have sent a letter to top officials at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, asking the agency to help the Jäger crew under a set of exceptions written into state law.
The letter points to a 60-year-old "good reason" statute that applies when workers quit their jobs for any of the following causes:
- Those directly related to employment and for which the employer is responsible
- Those adverse to the worker, and
- Those that would compel an average, reasonable worker to quit rather than remain in the job.
"The situation at Club Jäger clearly meets this threshold," the lawmakers' letter states.
What employees went through
"Aside from the indignity of working for an owner who supports white supremacy," the lawmakers write, "the working conditions at Club Jäger became untenable after the Duke story was released."
The letter references reports that the employees were harassed, threatened, and "taunted on the streets" because of their affiliation with DeRoma.
Additionally, the revelations about Jäger's owner also brought white supremacists out of the woodwork and into the bar, the letter says, potentially forcing employees to serve "countless groups" of racists.
The employees' walk-out forced the club to shut down, and it has been closed since.
Clubhouse Jäger, which is located in a building that dates back to 1906, was bought by DeRoma about 13 years ago.