Bartenders and other restaurant employees in Rhode Island’s biggest tourist city were forced to apply for unemployment during last month’s gas shut-off. Some 300 people who work in Newport applied for emergency unemployment, as a direct result of the nearly week-long gas shut off.
Hundreds of businesses were forced to close for the week, including many bars and restaurants in the city. State labor department spokeswoman Shana Autiello said those workers mainly depend on tips and that is part of calculating how much lost income they should be able to recoup.
“So for tipped workers, the hourly wage and the tipped wage are factored in to the claim that they report,” Autiello said.
But it could still be days before any of those who applied for the emergency unemployment will see any money.
“We waived the waiting period, which is normally a couple of weeks, so we waived that for those individuals, and they will now get their first paychecks within two to three weeks,” Autiello said.
Meanwhile, two class-action lawsuits are pending against National Grid and the gas provider Enbridge, citing negligence. Neither company has commented on the twin lawsuits.