CEO Who Urged Staff to Work Through Ian Unleashes Storm of Outrage

Kathy Gurchiek By Kathy Gurchiek September 30, 2022
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CEO Who Urged Staff to Work Through Ian Unleashes Storm of Outrage

​The CEO of a marketing company headquartered in Clearwater, Fla., created a storm of outrage when she urged her employees to work in the office during Hurricane Ian.  

In the e-mail, Joy Gendusa, head of PostcardMania, downplayed the seriousness of the hurricane, calling it a "nothing burger," and told employees to bring their pets and children to headquarters Tuesday and Wednesday if they needed to evacuate.

Social media backlash erupted, however, prompting Gendusa to change course. She announced headquarters would close and instead be used as a place for employees to shelter in place, according to the Tampa Bay Times, noting that the building is "in a non-evacuation zone and built to withstand Category 5 winds." The company employs more than 290 people and has a 69,800-square-foot campus, according to the Times

Gendusa issued an apology to staff in a memo Wednesday, apologizing to those who felt her earlier comments "came across as insensitive," the Times reported. The hurricane, which made landfall Wednesday, has devasted Florida. President Biden said it could be the deadliest in the state's history

SHRM Online collected the following news articles and resources on this topic: 

Workers Urged to Go to Office Ahead of Hurricane Ian

As Hurricane Ian headed toward Tampa, Fla., this week—the first major storm to threaten the area in a century—PostcardMania's chief executive urged employees to come to work and bring their children and pets.

Gendusa insisted she wasn't scared, Vice reported, even as Pinellas County—home to its headquarters, based in Clearwater—ordered some evacuations starting Monday.

(The Hill

Florida CEO Faces Backlash After Asking Employees to Work Through Hurricane Ian, and to Bring Pets, Family to Office

"It's not going to be that bad," Gendusa said in a video recording of the meeting obtained by The Washington Post. "Obviously, you feeling safe and comfortable is of the utmost importance, but I honestly want to continue to deliver and I want to have a good end of quarter," Gendusa added. "And when it turns into nothing I don't want it to be like, 'Great, we all stopped producing because of the media and [thought] maybe that it was going to be terrible.' "

Employees received an automated text after the meeting encouraging them to bring loved ones to the office during the peak of the storm on Tuesday and Wednesday.

(Entrepreneur

[SHRM members-only resource: Weather and Natural Disasters

Who Has to Work During a Hurricane?

There should be clear protections for workers who are following orders to evacuate due to weather. While PostcardMania initially pressured its employees to work through Ian; the company later walked that back after being called out by Labor Notes writer and activist Jonah Furman.

(Slate

When Disasters Strike: Pay, Leave and Related Issues

When business is suspended or employees can't get to work, numerous employment laws are implicated.

(SHRM Online

Hurricanes

Hurricanes are dangerous and can cause major damage from storm surge, wind damage, rip currents and flooding. They can happen along any U.S. coast or in any territory in the Atlantic or Pacific oceans. Storm surge historically is the leading cause of hurricane-related deaths in the United States. Here are some resources and tips from the U.S. government.

(Ready

Worker Safety During Hurricane Season

With storm surges, high winds, large waves and flooding, hurricanes can be extremely dangerous for anyone in their paths. According to the Congressional Budget Office, damages from hurricane activity cost U.S. businesses $9 billion every year.

Here are five steps to keep your workers safe.

(National Medical Systems)

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