Local News

Fayetteville workers demand back pay, allege taxes weren't paid

Posted July 30, 2010 6:50 p.m. EDT

— Dozens of former employees of a defunct entertainment venue in downtown Fayetteville picketed the site Friday afternoon, complaining that the owner owes them money but refuses to pay them.

Dock's at the Capitol opened to great fanfare in the former Capitol department store on Hay Street in late 2007. It featured video games and a large sports bar and was billed as the premiere entertainment center in downtown Fayetteville.

The facility closed to the public in early July when North American Savings Bank began foreclosure proceedings and is now open only for special events.

Employees said Friday that they haven’t been paid for five weeks of work.

“It’s such a shame because so many of us strongly believed in this project,” said Mark Hackler, a former operations manager and interim general manager at Dock's.

Christine Dillon, another former manager, said Melvin Henderson, the principal official of Dock's owner Capitol Entertainment LLC, has given numerous excuses about why employees have gone unpaid.

In addition to the lack of paychecks, the employees alleged that Henderson hadn't paid state and federal withholding taxes since September.

Court records show that Dock’s owes nearly $250,000 in state sales taxes in addition to the $4.3 million loan from North American Savings Bank.

"Now that no taxes are filed on us, we're unable to get unemployment," Dillon said.

"Quarterly reports were never submitted. Our taxes haven't been paid," Hackler said. "There are no records of our wages since September."

The state Department of Labor is investigating complaints against Dock's, according to a spokesman. Officials with the Internal Revenue Service and the state Employment Security Commission said they couldn't comment on the allegations.

Henderson declined to comment Friday, but a spokeswoman said employees would be paid what they're owed.

"We have been working very closely with the Department of Labor to get those things paid,” said Denise Suggs, marketing manager for Capitol Entertainment.

Suggs declined to comment on the employees' claims that withholding taxes hadn't been paid.

Henderson is committed to reopening Dock's, but he doesn't know when that will happen, she said, adding that he isn't to blame for the venue's financial mess.

"It was loss of special events, poor management of payroll, and poor operations of Dock's at the Capitol. That's my opinion," she said.

The former employees said Henderson was the only person who had access to operating funds and who could sign off on accounts. They said they're tired of hearing excuses for the failure of Dock's.

"The electricity wasn't paid or the credit card machines weren't paid, so we can't get paid," Crystal Ramos said. "I can't raise kids on a $0 paycheck."