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Building contractor accused again of not paying workers

Posted January 5, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

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— As Raleigh-based USHomeComfort is under investigation for allegedly not paying its employees, the company's former president is accused of not paying workers at his other business.

More workers fight for paychecks More workers fight for paychecks

At least 17 employees have accused USHomeComfort president Robert Wiggins, who also owns Apex-based Circuit Masters Electrical, of not paying them. The North Carolina Department of Labor and the N.C. State Board of Examiners of Electrical Contractors are investigating the wage claims against the building contractor.

A former Circuit Masters Electrical employee, who didn't want to be identified, said he is among those owed money.

"It has definitely been tough, just having to pay the bills on time. It has definitely been a hard priority," he said.

The former employee says he worked for Circuit Masters for about 45 days and is owed around $9,000 in back pay.

"I'm told consistently that, 'We're doing our best to get you guys caught up. We are going to give you partial payments here and there and full paychecks when we can,'" the former employee said.

Barry Johnston says he is also seeking unpaid wages from Wiggins.

"They kept telling me, 'We are going to pay you. We are going to get the money. It won't be a problem,'" Johnston said.

WRAL went to Wiggins' Apex home Monday evening. Before ordering the news crew off his property, he said he did not have the money to pay his workers due to a lost contract.

"If you open a company, you start it up, and you are expected to pay your employees on time. You are expected to run your company efficiently in the way it is supposed to be run," the former Circuit Masters employee said.

Jim Taylor, director of the state's Wage and Hour Division, said an investigator will determine whether money is owed to the former employees and if there will be an administrative determination. If so, the company would be ordered to pay the employees, but the state agency does not have the power to force payment.

If the state determines money is owed and the employees don't get paid, the workers or the state can pursue the case in court. The company can also appeal the decision.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • coolwill Jan 6, 2009

    $9000.00 for 45days of work, thats $200.00 a day.

  • ridgerunner Jan 6, 2009

    What I cannot understand is how this guy gets people to work for him. If you are not going to get paid you may as well be unemployed. Wiggins has been in the news enough for most people to have heard of his failure to pay.

  • pbjbeach Jan 6, 2009

    This is just absoultly carzy if you ask me that a state office doesnt have any power over company's like this to enforce labor laws in this state an to make this company pay its employee the monies that is justfiable owed to its employees. i personnaly feel that the citizens of north carolina should protest outside the commissioner of labors office for these employees until she resigns from office or perhaps she should be impeached as in the case of the illionis governor

  • americangirl Jan 6, 2009

    I am a contractor and I don't have a beach house, a classic car, a boat, or a motorcycle. I would sell my house to pay my employees and there are such things as lines of credit.

  • Justin T. Jan 6, 2009

    I've never met an owner of a contracting company that didn't have a boat, beach house, classic car, motorcycle, etc. The point is... be a responsible owner and sell any luxury items available until your workers are paid for their labor.

    I side with business owners who have to cut back or lay off because of lost contracts but don't ever see an excuse not to pay people for work they have already done. It's not their fault that you are not being responsible and "floating" all of the money instead of keeping enough in payroll to cover your costs.

  • superman Jan 6, 2009

    The guy worked 45 days and he is owed 9,000. What a wonderful job he had. No wonder the business owner is broke if he paid that kind of money.

  • The Dude Jan 6, 2009

    I don't know why this is such a news story. I'm sure he is not the only business owner struggling to make payroll each week. I'm pretty sure Obama & McCain spoke of the small business owners getting crushed due to lack of credit lines in this current economic system. I fail to see how this is either news or criminal. He's a businessman. He pays what he can or doesn't. The remedy is to sue the company. My guess is he'll be filing bankruptcy and none of the employees will get paid. This is not a criminal case.

  • spentrounds-full auto Jan 6, 2009

    Here is a viable and effective means to save the state money - eliminate the entire wage and hour bureau in department of labor. They have never been able to effectively get an employer to pay money due to employees. They have always sent out "boiler plate" documents (fill in the blank) to both the employer and employee in regards to the complaint. After months of no resolution, the employee gets a letter from Jim Taylor saying you can take the employer to court. Jim Taylor is definitely a waste of state money with a useless job. We should demand back taxes from him for providing a useless job at taxpayers expense. Bypass wage and hour bureau and go straight to court, that is all Jim Taylor will advise after months of waiting. He has absolutely no authority at all to make an employer pay money owed. He and his "investigators" are worthless.

  • OrdinaryCitizen Jan 6, 2009

    If I wasn't paid I would take something from him...business tools, something from his house etc....and I don't consider it stealing just a different payment.

  • SargeDaMan Jan 6, 2009

    Sounds like the contractor was a poor businessman and now his employees get to suffer for his bad business decisions.