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Last week BuzzFeed laid off 15% of its staff including the health desk, national security desk, their entire national desk, the LGBT desk, and some from their entertainment desk.

Friday, 43 people were let go with the editor and chief Ben Smith announcing a total of 250 would be laid off. Smith took to Twitter basically offering up his newly laid-off ex-employees to new outlets, ” Awful day @buzzfeednews. We laid off some great news people. If you’re hiring for a news job, I would love to help you find someone. DMs are open. “

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BuzzFeed Editor-In-Chief Ben Smith

BuzzFeed laid off employees the same week roughly 1,000 people from Gannett, Huffington Post, and Yahoo lost their jobs.

President Donald Trump tweeted on Saturday in response to the layoffs: “Ax falls quickly at BuzzFeed and Huffpost!” Headline, New York Post. Fake News and bad journalism have caused a big downturn. Sadly, many others will follow. The people want the Truth! “

Employees And Ex-Employees Publish Letter Demanding PTO

On Saturday, in a letter published on Medium and written by BuzzFeed News Staff Council as well as both current employees and those recently laid off, it was made clear that those who were recently laid off would not be receiving any paid time off earned.

BuzzFeed is refusing to pay out earned, accrued, and vested paid time off for almost all US employees who have been laid off. They will only pay out PTO to employees in California, where the law requires it. 

Excerpt from letter published on Medium 1/26/19

The letter continues: ” This is paid time that employees accrued by choosing not to take vacation days, and instead do their work at BuzzFeed.”

” We, the undersigned, stand together in demanding that BuzzFeed pay out earned PTO to all laid-off employees, regardless of the state they live in, to eliminate this disparity. It is the only just way to proceed — especially as this round of layoffs has been so damaging to your workforce as a whole — to pay your employees for the time they earned while working so hard to make BuzzFeed a successful company. “

To date, the letter has acquired 459 signatures.

Head of BuzzFeed’s Human Resources Dept, Lenke Taylor, responded to the letter saying BuzzFeed is “open to re-evaluating this decision.”

“We would like to have a dialogue with the news staff council and staff from other departments on PTO payout. We are open to re-evaluating this decision but we think it is important for everyone to understand the tradeoffs in changing the PTO practice, how we came to the decision to offer everyone a minimum of 10 weeks salary, and the ways we’ve adjusted our severance to be fair and competitive in every state we operate,” Taylor wrote.

Lenke Taylor, BuzzFeed HR Head

The Washington Examiner reported that “BuzzFeed is paying every laid-off employee 10 weeks pay and benefits through April.”

BuzzFeed recently published an article with the headline “President Trump Directed His Attorney Michael Cohen To Lie To Congress About The Moscow Tower Project,” which Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani told Fox News, “There are no texts and emails or other documents to corroborate BuzzFeed’s claim for the simple reason that it is not true.”

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A spokesperson from Mueller’s team even issued a statement on the #FakeNews article, claiming the BuzzFeed piece was “not accurate.”

The statement read: “BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the Special Counsel’s Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s Congressional testimony are not accurate.”

Taylor added in her response to the letter that BuzzFeed would be following up with employees and ex-employees on Monday by the end of the day to schedule a meeting.

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