Man fired by text message from his new job for getting stranded in Hurricane Harvey

On Monday, Adam Schrader was set to start a new job as the managing editor of the Colorado County Citizen in Columbus, Texas. But then Hurricane Harvey struck, Schrader got stuck in a hotel nearby, and now he’s out of a job.

The paper’s offices sit in a town at the mouth of the Colorado River in a town that’s currently being evacuated. Schrader, who moved from New York to Columbus, Texas this year, had traveled the 77 miles to Houston to do a freelance assignment for the New York Daily News this weekend before he started his new job.

“I kept in touch with my boss and let her know the situation. They know I’m trapped in this storm and we’ve been texting back and forth yesterday. I took a freelance assignment for the [New York] Daily News and got trapped in Houston because of it. So I couldn’t make it in,” Schrader told Ladders.

“I started driving out of Houston on Sunday night. It took me three hours, but I made it to a hotel in Katy, which is a Houston suburb,” he told Ladders.

Then on Tuesday morning, still stuck in the hotel, he received a text message.

Schrader is concerned about the abrupt move in light of the hurricane’s historical impact on the state of Texas and transportation there.

He is also worried that the newspaper was upset he was in Houston doing work for another paper, albeit for his start date.

“This weekend, the Daily News called and asked me to freelance hurricane coverage,” Schrader told Ladders. “I rented a truck in Austin and drove on down and worked it. Flooding wasn’t too bad and I expected to get home but ultimately couldn’t. Interstate 10 was flooded.”

“It doesn’t really matter what I was doing. I could have gone to Austin to visit my girlfriend….Would they have rescinded the offer letter then? There’s a million legitimate reasons why someone misses their first day of work, and I think being trapped in a hurricane is one of them,” Schrader told Ladders. “It doesn’t really matter why I was caught in the hurricane. The main thing is that I was.”

Meanwhile, the town of Katy has been purposely flooded to relieve the pressure on Houston’s streets and waterways. “I’m kind of freaking out,” he told Ladders.

Beyond his job prospects, which are weighing heavily on him, Schrader said he is also worried about Columbus, which is under a voluntary evacuation order since Monday afternoon. “My house I just started renting might be flooded with all my possessions,” he added. “I haven’t even signed the lease yet and all my stuff is there.”

Employer: Employee chose to write for different outlet and stay in Houston

On its Facebook page, The Citizen weighed in on its decision, and offered a different story. The paper’s publisher, Michelle Banse Stokes, said that Schrader “failed to come to work despite there being ways for him to make the commute.”

According to Stokes, Schrader didn’t show up to work on his start date, and only when Stokes contacted him, did Schrader let the paper know that he was in Houston covering the hurricane for a different outlet as a freelancer. When Stokes urged Schrader to return to Columbus because the paper “needed his coverage here” and the county was under a state of disaster, Schrader refused, according to Stokes. The paper even had an employee travel down the route Schrader would need to take to get to work and that employee had “no issues getting to work.”

“Realizing the obvious fact that his commitment was to cover this national hurricane event in Houston for another news outlet and not cover news for our coverage area of Colorado County, I made the decision to rescind our offer of employment,” Stokes wrote.

Schrader responded in the Facebook thread that he was having car trouble during the weekend.

Schrader later issued a statement.

In other parts of Houston, there have been stories of people heading to work despite the risk of rising floodwaters. The New York Times interviewed Gloria Maria Quintanilla, a Houston woman who walked to work in waist-high water, to get to her $10/hour job. She said she went because “It was my day to work, and I’m a very responsible person.”

Schrader, for his part, expressed sadness about his job prospects after a long job search led him to Texas. “Guess I’m looking for jobs again,” he told Ladders.