| USA TODAY
D.C. United asked employees to work overnight security – without compensation – shortly after terminating its contracted security company to offset fiscal losses from the coronavirus pandemic.
In a staff email obtained and corroborated by The Athletic, D.C. United employees were asked to work a voluntary shift watching security cameras at Audi Field, the home stadium for the soccer team. In case of any emergency, these employees were asked to inform D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department via 911.
A day after the team experienced a break-in at Audi Field on May 26, D.C. United General Counsel Chris Deubert informed staffers that its partnership with the company, Allied Security, had been terminated due to “serious mistakes.” According to The Athletic, the company was costing the team close to $100,000 a month.
Deubert wrote to staff members in the email: “Consequently, we need to begin staffing security during the night and overnight. And we are asking our employees to volunteer for a shift. We know everyone is working hard to continue to push D.C. United forward during these challenging times, but we also know that nearly everyone is working in at least somewhat of a reduced capacity (some likely more than others).”
Deubert added: “Volunteering to assist with security will certainly be looked favorably upon (and vice versa).”
Several anonymous employees told The Athletic they feared for their jobs if they didn’t volunteer. D.C. United had already terminated and furloughed numerous employees before sending the email.
Some even feared for their own safety while volunteering for the shifts because of the timing in the night in which they would get off work – all while public protests and civil unrest demonstrations were happening.
A club spokesman told The Athletic in response to the claims from the anonymous employees: “We terminated our security company for cause, and given the impact COVID has had on our general day-to-day work practices we asked staff members, including executives, to volunteer to work stadium supervisory shifts, which solely encompasses viewing monitors from a secured room within the stadium.”
Deubert also told The Athletic in response to the claims:
“Upon reflection, I quickly realized that some aspects of the email I sent to our staff concerning working security shifts could have been negatively received. …I promptly used the forum of an all staff video conference to take accountability and apologize.”