It was supposed to be a benefit for local food shelves, but rumors of forced labor are making Saturday’s fundraiser at a local Great Clips seem a little less altruistic.
Anonymous e-mail tips to the News Tribune and a posting on Craigslist both allege that the Great Clips in Cloquet is forcing employees to work for free during the Haircuts for Hunger benefit where customers can donate money or a non-perishable food item to help area food shelves.
Linda Ayres, owner of the Cloquet Great Clips, was startled when she read the Craigslist posting and said the rumors are unsubstantiated.
“I just read this here and thought, ‘this is funny because my employees brought it to me,’ ” Ayres said. “Not sure where the rumor circulated from. When I got a call from one of my coworkers this morning I was like, ‘Whoa. Who is saying this?’ ”
Contact with the tipster has not yet been made.
Ayres said her employees in Cloquet approached her in June about the fundraiser, and she said she would give the store over to the good cause. Then, she got her other stores in the Miller Hill Mall area and the Mount Royal Shopping Center on board.
“There is no requirement that you have to do it,” Ayres said. “There is no requirement of how many hours. There is no requirement of having to be there that day. Those who want to be there will be there.”
Bobbie Netzel, an employee at the Cloquet Great Clips, confirmed that.
“Everybody working is volunteer-based,” Netzel said.