Woman says Cleveland hired her, pushed start date back over a year due to COVID-19, then told her she was no longer needed

Updated: May. 6, 2021 at 4:39 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Imagine waiting more than a year to start a new job, only to find out you no longer have the job.

The city of Cleveland hired her and then strung her along for months amid the pandemic.

19 News Investigates tried to find out what happened and and why the city never let her start before letting her go.

Imagine waiting more than a year to start a new job, only to find out you no longer have the job. A woman came to 19...

Posted by Hannah Catlett on Thursday, May 6, 2021

Erika Kirts said she left her position at the Cuyahoga County Clerk’s Office for a pay raise at a new job last spring.

“With this job it was more room to move around into my field, because I have a degree in criminal justice,” Kirts said.

Kirts said the city of Cleveland hired her as a parking enforcement officer last year and showed us the emails from city, stating she was supposed to start on March 23, 2020.

She was also drug tested and given a dress code for her daily duties.

But, just before that date came, the pandemic shut down city services in cities across the country.

Ever since, she said she’s been reaching out to the city, asking if she can come to work yet.

“I want to work,” she said. “I can’t wait to work. I like to work, I’ve always had a job.”

She’d also been searching for other jobs in the meantime.

“Then I see an posting for the same job that I was hired for,” she said.

When she inquired about that listing, and the city told her it still wasn’t time for her to start.

The city’s HR person responded in this email last August saying, “There has been no response to when new hires are to report to work.”

This January, Kirts received a W2 from the city seemingly meaning she’d made it on the city’s payroll, even though she hadn’t had a dime or worked a day yet.

“I feel stuck and I ask the question like why,” she said.

She continued to follow up via email and phone call, and that brings us to this spring, when she says she finally got a phone call back from the woman in charge of the city’s parking enforcement.

“She told me, ‘We don’t have a job for you,’” Kirts said.

But why? Were there budget cuts? Was it an oversight all this time?

Kirts says she didn’t really get an explanation as to why there was suddenly no job for her.

We reached out to the city, and four days after a spokesperson said she would look into the matter, we still haven’t heard back.

“I said this can’t go like this,” Kirts said. “I’m not just going to lay down and let them do that to me, because I could have kept my job where I was.”

She counts herself lucky, though, for one reason.

Also because of the pandemic, she was laid off from her job at county just a few days before what was supposed to be her last. That made her eligible for unemployment compensation the last 14 months.

“I was blessed,” she said.

But, she’d rather not fight with the unemployment system any longer than she has to. And, she’d rather have a real job, because the amount she gets from unemployment is limiting to the life she’s trying to give her children.

“It’s very confusing to me,” Kirts said. “You have somebody who wants to work who has the background-- and to push them away like that, I don’t think that’s fair.

19 Investigates also asked the city if others who were hired before the pandemic never started and were then let go. We did not hear back on that either by publishing time.

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