One of Maricopa’s newest businesses is off to a rocky start after terminating about 20 employees before even opening.
The dessert restaurant, between MOD Pizza and Jimmy John’s in Sonoran Creek Marketplace, hired about 70 employees for its opening July 29, according to store co-owner/operator Jacob Armstrong. However, about 20 of those employees were told after being onboarded that they would not be hired after all, leaving many without jobs.
Dorian Carmeci said she was recruited by store manager Anne-Marie McKinley. According to Carmeci, 64, McKinley was conducting interviews in MOD Pizza, where Carmeci was working at the time.
“She came into my workplace, MOD Pizza, and told me she was very impressed with my professionalism with regard to my customers and my willingness to do whatever needs to be done,” Carmeci said. “I interviewed after my shift and was hired on the spot. I told her my availability, which was for opening shifts, and she said that was great.
“I received a welcome to the Crumbl team letter on July 6 and instructions from (human resources) asking for documentation, so I sent pictures of my driver’s license, passport card, filled out a Homeland Security form, ADP W2 and I-9 forms and gave them a voided check for payroll. (I was) also invited to join their (intracompany communications service) Slack channel to get more information and communicate with others on the team. I left MOD on July 12 since I had been hired at Crumbl.”
But the hiring didn’t last.
Carmeci, who lives in Province, said during the next few weeks she connected with her Crumbl team via Slack and was told by McKinley her training was to start July 27 or Aug. 1, and that she would be paid for her orientation day.
But as the date approached, no firm date was confirmed. Instead, she received a text from McKinley that Crumbl had over-hired, and she was sorry for any inconvenience.
“Inconvenience?” Carmeci said. “I left my job. Spent over $100 for non-skid shoes and black pants ($76 for two pairs of black pants and $60 for the shoes) and now I have no job. That is not an inconvenience. What they did to me and my almost co-workers is criminal.”
Armstrong said the error was an innocent mistake.
“(It’s) pretty simple, people were sharing information and we ended up hiring over 70 people,” Armstrong, who also owns five other Crumbl Cookie shops in the Valley, said via text message. “We aimed for 50 and ended up with 70 hires. So, we had to cut it back to 50. Thought it would be better to not have them start at all rather than lead 20 people on for a few weeks and then let them go.”
The store manager at the time, Anne-Marie McKinley, tells a different story.
She said Armstrong approached her during the hiring process and asked her what questions she was asking during interviews. He wanted to add two questions: whether the prospective employees could lift 50 pounds and if they were smokers, because, according to McKinley, he hated smoking.
“And that’s’ why Dorian was added to the cut list of people to be let go, because she disclosed during her application process that she couldn’t lift 50 pounds,” McKinley said. “But she didn’t need to be able to lift 50 pounds. There were all kinds of people in that store who could do that. Dorian was hired so she could be at the register, greeting people and having that energy that she had at MOD Pizza.”
Armstrong was asked why he did not know, as the owner of five other Crumbl Cookie franchises, how many employees it took to open a store, but declined to comment for the record and said the Crumbl Cookie corporate office would provide comment. He also declined to say if those terminated were being compensated in any way.
Crumbl Cookie had not responded to InMaricopa at press time.
Eldon Elledge of Maricopa said his 17-year-old daughter Contessa went through the same scenario. She was hired, gave notice to her previous employer based on the knowledge she had a job at Crumbl, and then was told she was being let go before starting.
“She filled out the hiring paperwork, and Crumbl told her orientation would be the week of July 24,” Eldon Elledge said. “She gave her two weeks’ notice at Firehouse Subs, and they kept her for 6-7 days, then they let her go. She was excited about her starting, what she’d learn and having a new work experience. I was excited because I want my kids to gain confidence in the workplace and always be learning. We went on a vacation and when we got back, said couldn’t access her group on Slack. Then a friend of hers was one of first to get text message that they weren’t going to be hired after all.”
Contessa did not receive the text telling her she was not being hired, so Eldon started doing some research. He says he was told by a woman named Brandi in Crumbl human resources that, “You’re just going to have to deal with it.”
At least for Carmeci, the sting goes beyond simply not having a job. She purchased shoes and pants for the job, costing her about $100. Crumbl has not offered to reimburse her for that expense.
Eldon Elledge said there is a way to at least begin mending fences.
“As the franchise owner he should make a public apology and not pass the buck,” Elledge said. “He should say, ‘we did mess up, and it’s not the way we wanted to come to your growing town.’ He could rectify a lot of the damage by just acknowledging it and saying they messed up. This community works in these businesses, and we have the right to be treated well by them.”
Contessa Elledge was disappointed in the entire process.
“I definitely got my hopes up,” she said. “I was really upset. I was going to be happy to frost cookies and not make sandwiches anymore. I was excited to make tips and make more money. I feel like something should happen when a company promises you a job, and you quit your old job then they just let you go for no reason.
“It’s very unfair and very unprofessional.”