Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Help Me Howard: Can't Get Paid
The tough times mean many are out of work, but what about the people with jobs who put in the hours and are still not getting paid for their time? One man says he's owed money from a group you probably wouldn't expect. Here's Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- If you have a boring job sitting behind a desk all day, you might like to trade places with Brad Ragan.
Brad Ragan: "It is exciting. It is different everyday. That is the best thing about the job, is you never do the same thing everyday."
Being a private investigator is different and being a dad to four, including triplets is not very common either.
Brad Ragan: "I wouldn't say what is tougher. I'd say what is more rewarding. I'd say being a father of four is more rewarding."
Rewarding, but it doesn't pay the bills, which is why Brad works everyday.
Brad Ragan: "Basic election fraud things that they tell you to watch for."
Last fall, Brad was hired by the Republican party to watch the polls during early voting.
Brad Ragan: "I actually worked two days. I worked two days in a row. We are talking about $180, $200."
The election went smoothly, no problems at the polls, but when it came time for the Republicans to pay up, a problem popped up.
Brad Ragan: "I'm still waiting. We were supposed to be paid by the first week of December. I'm still waiting."
As a registered Republican, Brad was disappointed in his party, but he thought a few phone calls would get it straightened out.
Brad Ragan: "I've been trying to make contact through different Republican Parties and affiliates since then with no luck. I've also called all the numbers that I had. They've all been turned off. They are not taking incoming calls."
After an election, it's common for campaign groups to shut down their headquarters, but Brad thought they would pay their bills before they turned out the lights.
Brad Ragan: "I was surprised by it all, to tell you the truth. I mean, I didn't expect to have a problem getting paid by the Republican Party."
As a private investigator, Brad could spend a few days and maybe track down the money, but when you work for yourself, time is money.
Brad Ragan: "I could waste a lot more time and money tracking it down, when I could be working."
Not getting paid for work you have done, it is happening a lot now, and in this case, the people who hired Brad have moved on, so is he out of luck, Howard?
Howard Finkelstein: "Because Brad was an independent contractor, if the Republicans won't pay him, he can sue in small claims court. Now, for most of us, we are employees of a company, so the rules are different. If your company doesn't pay, you can contact the state or federal government, and they will intervene on your behalf to get you your money."
After we started checking, we found out it was the Republican Party of Florida that was responsible for paying Brad. They told us, he had been contacting the wrong Republican groups, that they would be happy to send him his check.
Brad is getting his money, but for people who are still working at a job and having trouble getting paid, what do you do? It's not a legal question, Howard says, it's a question only you can answer.
Howard Finkelstein: "Your best defense is to pay attention to what is going on. Are they issuing pay checks late? Are checks bouncing? Are vendors not getting paid? All of these are signs the business is in trouble, and you may want to leave instead of continuing to work for free but still complain to the labor department."
Brad got his check. It's not a lot, but it helps because private eyes are also enduring tough times right now.
Brad Ragan: "Nowadays, infidelity cases have really fallen down quite a bit because people aren't spending that kind of money. They aren't going to spend $5,000 on a four-day investigation if there is not a lot of money involved."
Are you suffering from all work and no pay? Ready to employ someone to help? Check in with us, cause, to be blunt, we need the paycheck.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
U.S. Department of Labor
Florida Attorney General