While visitors to our blog have read about cases in which employees have had to sue their employers for unpaid wages, people the nation over are seeing this scenario played out right now in California. According to recent reports, the Bellflower Medical Center hospital chain is responsible for not paying the salaries of several hospital staff workers over the past year and is now facing litigation from two state departments to the tune of $107 million.
According to the workers, problems began last year when the federal government sued the hospital chain for Medicare fraud. The hospital chain eventually settled but was forced to pay out $16.5 million. The workers say this is when their paychecks began to bounce. Now, nearly five months after the first worker’s paycheck bounced, the workers have been told not to come back to work and still have unpaid wage claims that have gone unanswered.
The state appears to have taken up the worker's cause with the Department of Labor Relations fining the company for $7 million in late wages and bounced checks, and The California Labor Commission filing a $100 million lawsuit for laying off the employees without providing legal notification. While some of the workers say they have considered seeking legal representation to reclaim their wages, some point out that without the income from this job, money is tight and might not be a possibility for many of the workers.
Although it appears as if the settlement agreement with the federal government was the catalyst for the unpaid wages, it' not clear whether the company explained this to the workers or not. Regardless, it's important to point out that employers are responsible for paying their workers for services rendered. A failure to do so, such as with this case, could lead to further litigation on behalf of the employees.
Source: ABS CBN News, "State sued hospital chain over unpaid wages," Steve Angeles, May 18, 2013