FACT CHECK: Did Goodwill Fire All Its Employees Amid The Coronavirus Pandemic?

Brad Sylvester | Fact Check Editor

A viral Facebook post shared more than 20,000 times claims Goodwill Industries International has fired all its employees because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Verdict: False

While some Goodwill stores have laid off and furloughed employees in response to the pandemic, Goodwill Industries International has not fired all its employees.

Fact Check:

Goodwill Industries International is made up of a network of 157 community-based, autonomous nonprofit organizations in the U.S. and other countries. More than 96% of the network’s thousands of thrift stores have closed to comply with local and state government guidelines aimed at curbing the spread of the new coronavirus, Goodwill spokeswoman Lauren Lawson-Zilai told the Daily Caller News Foundation in an email statement.

One viral Facebook post alleges that Goodwill fired — rather than laid off or furloughed — all of its employees. Getting fired for cause can jeopardize a worker’s ability to collect benefits, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

“I just want to share what Goodwill Industries just did to all their employees,” reads the post. “They use this pandemic to fire all their employees instead of laying them off. They did say they would hire them all back as a brand new employee with no built up benefits or vacation time.”

The post’s claim is inaccurate, however. While local Goodwill organizations across the country have laid off or furloughed employees, some operations have not shuttered. (RELATED: Is Dunkin’ Donuts Closing All Locations Over Coronavirus Concerns?)

For instance, the Goodwill of Columbia Willamette, Oregon, said it will lay off roughly 2,600 employees due to financial constraints related to the state’s stay-at-home order. Some employees, like those in human resources, finance and operations and store management, will keep their jobs, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting.

“The majority of our Goodwills have transitioned their mission delivery online,” Lawson-Zilai told the DCNF in an email. “Many Goodwills are providing job preparation skills, job search techniques, job leads and placements, and job readiness skills, including resume writing, interview skills building, dressing techniques and more online to their community members.”

Lawson-Zilai also said many Goodwills have pivoted their focuses to community partnerships. For instance, one Goodwill has partnered with a local dry cleaner to clean donated clothes that health workers can use as smocks. (RELATED: Are Thieve Using Face Masks Doused In Chemicals To Rob People?)

Sandra Feno, the Facebook user who made the claim, shared a photo of a “Notice of Reduction in Force Due to Coronavirus” letter from the Goodwill of Central and Northern Arizona after numerous commenters refuted the veracity of her post.

In a statement, that Goodwill organization said that it did “part ways with the majority of employees at each store” to ensure its financial stability. Those employees were laid off — not fired — and will receive a “severance package, which includes two-weeks’ pay, to help these team members in their transition to new employment,” according to the statement.

“We truly hope when this situation passes, we will be able to rehire the majority of these employees,” concludes the statement from the Goodwill of Central and Northern Arizona.

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Brad Sylvester

Fact Check Editor
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