In addition to facing six lawsuits, the ill-fated Fyre Festival has another controversy on its hands. In a leaked phone call obtained by Vice News, Fyre co-founder Billy McFarland announced to his employees that they would not be getting paid. No one is going to be fired (which allows for unemployment benefits), but Fyre is ceasing its payroll as of last Friday, when the call was recorded.
“After conferring with our counsel and all financial people, unfortunately we are not able to proceed with payroll,” McFarland informs his employees on the call. “We’re not firing anyone, we’re just letting you know that there will be no payroll in the short term.”
Ja Rule, the other co-founder of the festival, is also on the call, but does not say anything outside of telling everyone at the beginning that he's putting them on mute because of a "hum" in his phone.
According to Vice News, employees of Fyre Media, the festival's parent company, will not be receiving their paychecks from the past two weeks. McFarland offered employees the chance to stay with the company in unpaid positions, otherwise they would have to resign. When told that an individual cannot receive unemployment benefits without being fired, McFarland tells his employees, "I’m not aware of how this impacts the employment benefits," and continued to say, "If that 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,”
The call ends on an even more serious note, with one employee asking McFarland, "Should we be concerned about the FBI, Billy?" To which McFarland responds, "That’s really more of an individual thing.”