Rockets Owner Tilman Fertitta Shouldn’t Be Allowed to Spin Layoffs As “Favor” to Employees

Fertitta, who also owns restaurants and hotels, should not be allowed to spin the narrative in his favor

Tilman Fertitta Rockets
Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta leaves the court after the game against the Phoenix Suns on March 15, 2019.
Tim Warner/Getty Images

As the economy gets hit hard across all sectors due to the coronavirus pandemic, one NBA owner is trying to frame layoffs as if they were a “favor” to his employees. According to The Houston Chronicle, Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta went on Fox News on Saturday to talk about the economic impact of the pandemic and subsequent shutdowns on his businesses, and his answer regarding the nearly 45,000 layoffs he implemented left a lot to be desired:

I went through the ’87 crisis, the 2000, the 2008. You’re doing the people a favor if you get them furloughed first, because you have them first to unemployment line after the severance that you give them. It’s a trick that I’ve learned many years ago.

That “trick” seems fine and dandy on the surface, but thinking about it for two seconds makes it seem even more craven than just admitting to doing the layoffs for economic reasons would have. Fertitta, who was worth over $5 billion prior to the crisis, is prioritizing his own vast finances over thousands of employees who are not in the same financial position. That’s his right, regardless of what you might think of it from a moral standpoint, but trying to make it seem like he’s the good guy is just another in a recent string of questionable actions by one of the richest men in the world.

As SB Nation outlined last month, Fertitta’s entire M.O. since the pandemic began has been about protecting his own finances. He first downplayed the seriousness of the coronavirus in an effort to keep people going out and spending money, before trying to take away benefits from his hotel workers. Then came the mass furloughs and layoffs, the ones that Feritta attempted to spin as a positive this weekend. To top it all off, he also has been adamant that businesses should open back up in the beginning of May, despite many, many sources in the public health community saying that’s just not realistic.

Fertitta has made the wrong choice at every junction so far during the pandemic, at least in terms of doing right by his employees, but it would be morally corrupt to allow him to spin the narrative as if he were doing it all for the public good and the financial health of his employees. These layoffs were about saving himself money during one of the worst economic downturns in American history, and no amount of spin should change that fact.

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Read the full story at The Houston Chronicle

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