Staff who quit Club Jäger deserve unemployment benefits, say DFL lawmakers

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Club Jager staff quit the white supremacist bar with little chance of getting unemployment benefits. Some Minnesota legislators want to make sure they're taken care of anyway.

Usually, workers who voluntarily walk out on their jobs wouldn’t be eligible for unemployment benefits.

But if your boss is outed for financing a former Ku Klux Klan leader’s political campaign, and your workplace risks descending into a neo-Nazi hangout, that’s a legitimately “good reason” to quit, says a body of eight DFL legislators.

Last month, City Pages eported that Club Jäger’s owner, Julius Jaeger De Roma, donated $500 to support David Duke’s 2016 U.S. Senate bid. Duke, a former Grand Wizard of the KKK, ran in Louisiana to “defend the rights of European Americans.” He quickly became a pariah in Republican circles, and didn’t get the nomination.

Club Jäger’s nearly 20 employees didn't want to have anything to do with De Roma. As musicians cancelled their performances, motorcyclists cancelled their meetups, regulars boycotted, and sympathetic white supremacists started filing their bar stools, staff walked out and closed the doors, rather than working for De Roma.

“Aside from the indignity of working for an owner who supports white supremacy, the working conditions at Club Jäger became untenable,” reads a letter to the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) signed by legislators Jim Davnie, Tim Mahoney, Erin Maye Quade, Jason Metsa, Rena Moran, Mike Sundin, Paul Thissen, and Jean Wagenius.

“Employees report receiving threatening phone calls at the club, and even being threatened and taunted on the street when recognized as a Club Jäger employee.”

Luckily, Minnesota law provides some protections for workers who are forced to quit for a “good reason,” a vague term which applies to anything that would compel any reasonable person to leave, for which the employer is to blame.

“Staying on the job would require employees to endure nothing less than to work for an owner who supports white supremacy,” the letter goes on to say. “It could require them to serve countless groups of white supremacists who are drawn to Club Jäger for its notoriety.”

That’s as good a reason as any to find a different job, these legislators say. And the legislators want former staff to have the state’s support as they do that, asking DEED to quickly approve any applications for benefits received from former .

You can read the full letter here.


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