7 On Your Side:All Work No Pay; Reclaiming Lost Wages - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

9/4/07-Chandler

7 On Your Side:All Work No Pay; Reclaiming Lost Wages

They're really here for the people and the patients and they're not just here to earn a paycheck," says Registered Nurse Angela O'Neal.

That's what she and co-workers Lisa Collins and Angela Johnson thought about their former employer Exquisite Health Care, an at-home health business in Chandler. Months after working there, they say pay checks started coming late.

"One of the owners had come to me and said, 'Everyone's going to get a paycheck today. They're going to be late, but we may not have one for you.,' O'Neal recalls.

Then it got to a point when paychecks didn't come at all for weeks worked in July. Then the business closed it doors. 

"I had to hear from the [other] nurses that I don't have a job. Not the owners, not the people that were above me, but other co-workers," says former employee Johnson.

Collins adds, "Then I'm humiliated to have to borrow money from family and friends to pay bills, because the bills still come."

The women have called the company and its owners several times to no avail. Not to our surprise our calls to the owners were not returned either. But a wage claim form from the Texas Workforce Commission may be the trick to getting their money.

"The only recourse we have is through the [Texas Workforce Commission's] labor board. That process is the best one we have in place," says Stephen Lynch, Director of the East Texas Workforce Center in Tyler.

The wage claim form is reviewed by TWC's Labor Law Department, then issued a Preliminary Wage Determination Order or PWDO. From there the employer is ordered to pay the amount due or the Collections Unit will pursue action.

"I have followed up with some of the customers after the claim has been filed and most of them are satisfied," says Lynch of the Labor Law department's success rate collecting unpaid wages.

While the ladies are waiting on TWC's final determination, their questions remain.

"I would want answers to why we weren't informed that they were shutting down," says Johnson.

With TWC's help they may get that answer along with the money they're due for services rendered.

We do know at least one of the women we interviewed, Angela O'Neal, has received confirmation from the workforce commission that her claim form was received and is under review.

The Tyler office says claimants have to be patient because the process usually takes several weeks.

Christine Nelson reporting. cnelson@kltv.com

 

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