Wasserbahn workers denied unemployment after hotel and water park suddenly closed
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) – Employees left behind with the sudden closure of Wasserbahn say they are now being denied unemployment. The hotel and water park closed permanently on March 1, catching staff, including some who live in the hotel, off guard.
When the hotel closed, some of the workers filed for unemployment to try to make ends meet, but received rejection letters.
“I applied, I believe it was the second week of March, and about a week later I was sent a letter saying I had been turned down,” said Ruth Wheeler, who still lives in the hotel with his two sons.
Wheeler’s letter explained that she was denied because “the employer’s business has not closed permanently, it has in fact been sold to a new owner.”
This is despite several reports the first week of the closure, and the hotel now advertise an online auctionwhich state that “the owners have shut down this entire facility and are moving quickly to liquidate all assets”.
“We’re just begging, pleading, crying out for people’s help and nobody’s helping us,” Wheeler told TV9.
Another employee who received the same letter as Wheeler says he was finally approved.
“I had to call Workforce and be a little tough on them I guess, and then eventually, once they opened the case and started digging a little bit, they saw all the red flags,” John George explained. .
Other workers said they were turned away because Wasserbahn did not report paying them to the state.
“I was told when I was on the phone with labor that they only had 5 people listed as employees. And I know when the doors were closed there were about 50 of us,” a said George.
To top it off, employees say they still haven’t received their last paychecks, while their former boss Thomas Smock applied for a new business in Florida.
“He’s in Florida with his new bar open and we’re sitting here stranded, tied down,” Wheeler said.
We tried several ways to contact Smock between Wednesday and Thursday, he didn’t respond to any of them.
We asked Iowa Workforce Development about the situation and they sent us this statement: “IWD cannot comment on individual cases. In general, workplaces are required to accurately report the wages they pay and pay unemployment tax on those wages. If a job seeker feels that a former employer has not followed these rules, they are encouraged to contact the IWD. Additionally, any job seeker who believes their establishment has closed permanently is encouraged to share this fact with IWD so that we can investigate to determine the status of the business. This determination is usually based on a detailed tax investigation which may include reviewing employer records, visiting businesses, gathering information from former employees and reviewing financial records to determine if a sale took place.
The above factors are just a few of the many things taken into consideration when determining the benefits available to a job seeker. Once this availability has been determined, claimants receive a notice that lists the benefits to which they are entitled based on the current information. This notice also contains information about the possibility of an appeal if the applicant believes any information is incorrect. In some cases, salary or company status inquiries may take longer to warrant a thorough review. Each claim is unique and is dealt with on the particular facts and circumstances of that situation. IWD is here to help claimants and encourages anyone to contact Unemployment Insurance Customer Service at 1-866-239-0843 or [email protected] for any help.
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