Local News

Retirement Center Employees Fed Up With Payroll Problems

Posted January 27, 2006

— If you didn't get paid, would you show up for work? That's what employees at 12 assisted living centers in the area are facing. Workers worry that the people who live at the centers could suffer the most.

More than a dozen workers walked off the job at The Meadows of Wilson Assisted Living Community this week. They complained their paychecks bounced, and that it's a pattern.

"Every 24th of the month, we cannot get paid there is no money in the bank or checks are bouncing, and we're just tired of it," said employee Ezrosta Faison.

"Residents are not getting their proper care right now because there are so many aides that are supposed to be on the floor," said employee Dana Jenkins.

The center is owned by Caremerica, which is based in Leland. The company also owns Country Club Prime Time Retirement Village in Raleigh. Employee there said they had the same problem.

"They told us we couldn't take it to the bank because there is no money in the bank," said employee Mary Njenga.

Njenga said several of her paychecks have bounced, including her very first one in October

"They had to take money out of my savings account to cover it," said Njenga.

Workers at Hunter Hill Senior Village in Rocky Mount say it happened there also. The state Labor Department said it's investigating Caremerica after getting complaints form adult care centers in Wilson, Wilmington and Garner.

The Meadows employees went back to work the day after their walkout, without a paycheck. Njenga is still working too.

"It's because of the residents," she said. "Some of those residents don't have anybody. We are their family."

The state Health Department said they've received no complaints about the level of care at any Caremerica facilities in the state, so for now it's only a Labor Department investigation.

One of Caremerica's owners, Mike Elliot, told WRAL that a delayed deposit caused the payroll problems. Elliot says they are working to correct the problem, all employees will be paid, and no facility is in danger of shutting down.

Caremerica operates 16 facilities across the state. According to state records, the company was fined $2,000 on December 30 after a resident wandered off from Meadows of Oak Grove in Durham. And in April, the state fined Careamerica $10,000 after an 85-year-old woman was scalded in her tub at the Meadows of Laurinburg. She died three days later.


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