The latest news in the disastrous tropical saga that is Fyre Festival comes via audio of a phone call between co-founder Billy McFarland and their employees that was provided to Vice News. (McFarland’s cofounder Ja Rule was also on the call, but he didn’t say much.) On the audio, McFarland calmly informs those employees that they’re not getting paid.
“After conferring with our counsel and all financial people, unfortunately we are not able to proceed with payroll,” McFarland can be heard saying. “We’re not firing anyone, we’re just letting you know that there will be no payroll in the short term.”
According to Vice, the roughly dozen employees of the festival’s parent company Fyre Media learned that their checks for the previous two weeks would not be coming, and the status of upcoming checks is also uncertain. Several employees expressed shock at the news about their compensation and the bizarre arrangement that McFarland put forward: they were not being fired, just being told their payments weren’t coming anymore. McFarland made clear that employees were welcome to resign, but also left open the option for them to continue working at Fyre without compensation.
One employee pointed out that resigning rather than being terminated might hinder their ability to receive unemployment benefits. “I’m not aware of how this impacts the employment benefits. The goal is definitely not to put you in a bad position there, so I will need to get some advice on my side and figure out the best way to proceed,” McFarland answered. “If this impacts you, you can email me, and we can figure out what the right way to proceed is, to make sure everybody’s in a good place to collect any benefits,” he added.
Another employee asked McFarland if they should be concerned about the FBI. “I don’t know,” he answered. “I think that’s an individual thing.”