Fyre Festival founder to staff: We can’t pay you, but please ‘stay and help out’

Following the disastrous, unorganized Fyre Festival that left attendees stranded in the Bahamas without adequate transportation and food, Fyre Media founder Billy McFarland told employees that the company payroll had been indefinitely suspended.

>> Related: Ja Rule's 'luxury' island music festival turns into 'disaster tent city,' attendees say

An audio recording obtained and published Thursday by VICE News includes 25-year-old McFarland telling about a dozen of his "shell-shocked" employees that they would not be paid for the past two weeks.

“We’re not firing anyone; we’re just letting you know that there will be no payroll in the short term,” he said.

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Firing is a prerequisite for unemployment benefits in most states, according to Vice.

Instead, the employees were given the option to keep their positions, “stay and help out,” but remain unpaid until the company gets “back to a place where everything resumes to business as usual.”

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“So you’re not going to lay us off, which would allow us to file for unemployment benefits?” one employee asked. “You just are not going to pay us any more, making us quit ourselves.”

McFarland said he wasn’t aware of how the decision would affect unemployment benefits and said he would seek guidance from experts.

>> Related: Ja Rule, Billy McFarland banned from doing another festival in Bahamas after disastrous ‘luxury’ Fyre Festival 

Eventually, according to the audio, he said he would be willing to fire staff upon request.

Festival co-founder Ja Rule was also on the call, listening in.

Credit: Chance Yeh

Credit: Chance Yeh

According to Bloomberg, the company is facing a half-dozen lawsuits from disappointed customers over the now-infamous Fyre Festival, which some paid up to $12,000 to attend.

>> Related: Organizers of failed Fyre Festival named in class action lawsuit

The concert event, endorsed by high-profile models Bella Hadid and Hailey Baldwin, was advertised as “a cultural moment created from a blend of music, art and food,” with headlining acts such as Major Lazer, Blink-182, Migos, Pusha-T and more.

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