Monday, August 15, 2011
Help Me Howard: Get My Paycheck
Many Americans live paycheck to paycheck. It's not easy, and if your boss doesn't deliver a check, it can be extremely difficult. One South Florida man hasn't gotten a check for seven weeks. Legally, can your boss do that? It's why we have Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- This year started off pretty well for Daniel and Alesia when they got married.
Daniel McPhaul, Waiting for Paycheck: "Married life is beautiful. I have a good wife, and being a newlywed, I want to be a provider."
The good news is that Alesia had a job. Daniel did not, and it bothered him.
Daniel McPhaul: "You know, it's hard to sit here and my wife goes off to work and she's coming home. A man wants to come home with a check. A man wants to be able to say, 'Baby, here's something. I am giving something to the relationship, to the family.'"
Instead, Daniel would spend his time going to Curley's House, a non-profit organization that hands out food and clothing to thousands of people in South Florida. Then one day, they told Daniel they could help him get work at Sun Life Stadium.
Daniel McPhaul: "I work the concession stands, and I work the condiments carts. That's the carts that have the mustard, relish, onions. We just keep those carts clean and keep the napkins stacked up and keep the straws."
Curley's House and the stadium have an agreement. Curley's House provides some of the workers for the food areas for sporting and entertainment events, and the charity and their people like Daniel get paid for it.
Daniel McPhaul: "The contract for Curley's House is $45. Curley's House gets $5 from each employee that works at the stadium, so we only get the $40. They get $5."
It's only $40 a day for Daniel. Not a lot, but...
Daniel McPhaul: "But for a man that is making nothing, you know, nothing from nothing is nothing, so $40 is something."
Daniel loves working at the stadium for Curley.
Daniel McPhaul: "I get to meet people, and it's a good atmosphere."
When he started, Daniel signed an agreement with Curley's House that said that it would be four to six weeks till he got his first check.
Daniel thought after his first check came, he would then be paid regularly. He was not.
Daniel McPhaul: "They are not regular. They can't be regular. I haven't seen a check since June. That's not regular."
In fact, Daniel worked in June, meaning he has gone over seven weeks without being paid for that. He's owed $560 but doesn't have a penny to show for it.
Irritating to him, entertaining to his friends.
Daniel McPhaul: "'They haven't paid me.' They say, 'Man, you're crazy for going to work.' Even my wife says, 'Oh, you're going to work for free again.' It's like I am working for free."
Now Daniel knows by complaining, he is probably going to lose the chance to get free food and work from Curley.
Daniel McPhaul: "I wouldn't care what they do. All I want is my money. They can be mad, glad or sad. Pay me my money. I won't even worry about going back to Curley's House."
Well Howard, can your boss wait four to six weeks or even longer to hand you a paycheck?
Howard Finkelstein, 7 News Legal Expert: "It depends on what's agreed upon ahead of time. For most people, it's every two weeks or once a month. If you sign an agreement like Daniel did that gives the employer four to six weeks to hand out a check, they can go up to six weeks before paying you. But making Daniel wait seven weeks is a violation of their agreement."
When we spoke to the head of Curley's, she told us they provide jobs for people who lack skills or can't find work, like Daniel, that the workers are told the company in South Carolina that processes the checks for the stadium takes four to six to get the payment to Curley's House, where the money is given to the workers immediately.
When I reminded them it had been seven weeks, they said they would check into Daniel's case.
And Howard says if you miss a regular paycheck, you have an option.
Howard Finkelstein: "If you company misses the a paycheck, you can file a complaint with the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division. They will help you get your money. Since you are a whistleblower, they can't fire you. Also, if your employer misses more than one paycheck, you better start looking for another job."
Daniel McPhaul: "It was a total shock."
Curley's House got Daniel his check. They told me a donation came in that enabled them to pay since the money he is owed has still not come in.
Daniel McPhaul: "Thank you, Help Me Howard and Patrick Fraser for getting me my money. I called you yesterday, you interviewed me and today, I received my check. Everything is good, and I appreciate everything you have done for me."
Patrick Fraser: "Daniel is now looking for a job again. And if your employer misses a paycheck, how do you know whether to stick with them or cut your losses and quit? The best person to answer that is you. You probably know the business better than a labor expert. You make the call."
Troubles popping up regularly? Solutions irregular for you? Need someone to check into the problems? Pay us a visit. We will try to help you cash in, and hopefully our idea won't bounce back.
If you would like to file a complaint with the Department of Labor: http://www.dol.gov/wecanhelp/howtofilecomplaint.htm