Since tragedy struck at the Astroworld festival last month, more and more details have emerged in the aftermath.
The latest comes from a part-time employee who worked the event who now claims Astroworld promoters, namely Live Nation and Scoremore, subsequently attempted to withhold pay until staffers signed an amended employment contract that would prevent them from suing the giant organizations.
Per Rolling Stone, in an email sent on behalf of the promoting parties, the employee says a manager suggested that a group of workers needed to re-sign an “updated” agreement before payroll could be solidified—even though this particular group of part-time employees had already signed an initial contract prior to the mass casualty event at Astroworld which claimed ten lives and injured hundreds of attendees. What exactly was updated in this new contract? For one, the dates, seeing as the original contract was said to still have language referring to the 2018 festival instead of this year’s. The second update was language that specifically indicated who the promoting parties were and that they were to be released from any liability stemming from the festival.
“Hoping to wrap up payroll and get everyone paid ASAP but I still need a few things from some of you! The first agreement included details from 2018. It has been updated so if you can resign and send back,” read the email, which was sent on Nov. 15, (coincidentally the same day that nine-year-old Ezra Blount succumbed to the injuries he sustained at Astroworld.)
An excerpt from the amended contract reads:
“(Employee) assumes full responsibility for any injuries or damages that may occur to the (employee) in, on or about the festival and its premises and fully and forever releases and discharges the released parties from any and all claims, demands, damages, rights of action or causes of action resulting from or arising out of the (employee’s) attending and or providing services at the festival,”
Additionally, the contract also states that employees who sign it inherently agree that they’re “not covered nor eligible for any employee benefits or insurance coverage provided by the released parties including but not limited to medical, property and liability insurance and workers compensation benefits and that they agree to “mandatory binding arbitration of all disputes.”
The anonymous staffer who refused to sign the new agreement recently spoke out against it, explaining: “They essentially said, ‘You need to sign this new form in order to get paid.’ It was clear they wanted legal coverage. I definitely thought they were thinking of business first. ‘How can we cover ourselves?’ I know they weren’t thinking about us and how we were feeling, in my opinion. Nobody reached out to me individually to inquire how I was. It was just the paperwork.”
He also reflected on the things he saw that day, describing how he got caught up in the crowd surge and how fearful he was before luckily making his way out alive.
“I keep picturing myself falling back into the pile, the people screaming,” the employee told Rolling Stone. “I just keep replaying it. It definitely shook me up. I’m no stranger to death in my life, but seeing it right there in front of me like that, I definitely don’t see myself being in large crowds like that ever again.”