A Christmas nightmare came early for a Dinwiddie County mom this week, when her dream job at a new Amazon.com facility vanished.
Kathrine Walker, 43, signed up for a holiday temporary job at the new Amazon order fulfillment center in Petersburg. Two days before her December 5 start date, Walker was told in a brief phone call her job was gone.
"I sacrificed everything I had for them," said Walker in an interview Wednesday. "They just told me they were sorry for the inconvenience, and they told me to check back for openings."
Walker learned business was slower than expected for Amazon. She quit her full time job at a Colonial Heights healthcare center, hoping to start a promising career with the online retail giant.
"I wanted more money to support my four kids," Walker said. "I'm a single mom, my 24-year-old daughter also applied for a spot at the same place. And then we were left with nothing."
But Walker didn't sign up to work for Amazon. Instead, she applied for her temporary work through a company called Integrity Staffing Solutions. The Delaware-based firm hires temporary workers for Amazon.
A representative for Integrity said in a phone interview Thursday the firm makes it clear to new hires their assignments can vanish.
"I was never told that was a possibility," Walker said. "I went through a background check, orientation, and did my tax forms in their office."
Late Thursday, Integrity called Walker, notifying her that a position in the Amazon fulfillment center had reopened. The mother of four said she will take the position and start at the facility Friday morning.
Martin Wegbreit, director of litigation for the Central Virginia Legal Aid Society, said proof of employment in writing can help to avoid Walker's situation.
"There's no reason why any reputable employer wouldn't be willing to provide written proof of employment," Wegbreit said in an interview Thursday. "Even if it's just an email, your case will be stronger."
Virginia is an "employment-at-will" state, meaning an employee can be hired or fired at any time, for any legal reason. Wegbreit said anyone looking for temporary work should have a "Plan B" job, since it can be risky to start a new position without a written contract.
"No one should leave a current job for another job, unless they have something in writing offering them the new position," Wegbreit said.
Employees sent home before their start dates can also apply for unemployment benefits through the Virginia Employment Commission. People out of work must prove that changing to the new job was in their "best interests."
According to the VEC, proof of hiring for the new job must also be provided, and benefits cannot be collected if the new position had an end date.
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