Employees credit NBC12 for getting help on unpaid wages

Employees credit NBC12 for getting help on unpaid wages

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The On Your Side Investigators go to bat for two young professionals, who couldn't get their final wages from a job they left back in  August.

Ebony Clarke watched our first report, in which a former employee requested help getting her last pay checks from "Associated Educational Services of Virginia." The same thing was happening to Ebony, so she too called 12 for help.

Here's how both women got paid: we asked questions, we called, showed up in person, and even emailed the company president.

Purcell Branch emailed back, stating, "Company policy prohibits discussion of personnel issues." Then, two days after our report, Branch resolved the unpaid wage complaints and paid the women.

Ebony Clarke, encouraged to speak up after seeing she wasn't the only one having trouble receiving wages she earned from a former employer, says her experience mirrors Michelle Stewart's.

"Without her coming forward first, we probably would still be waiting for our checks. I know that for sure," said Clarke.

Both women talked about how it affected their families.

"I had a savings, but I was depending on my check," said Clarke. "School was coming up for my children, and I had asked for my check. I explained to him I need my money, and there's no reason you should be holding my money."

"If I had no savings account, I don't know what would have occurred. Where I would be," said Stewart.

Fired, laid off, or whether you voluntarily quit, the Virginia Payment of Wage Act prohibits employers from withholding final pay for any reason. Employees are supposed to get their last check the next pay period. These ladies showed text messages and call logs where they had been trying since their resignations in August to get unpaid wages. Both believe the power of NBC12 got them their money.

"Definitely, especially when Diane Walker showed up at the job. Definitely," said Clarke.

Stewart agrees.

"I do appreciate Diane taking the time out to listen to our story," said Stewart. "It means so much to me because...we definitely would not have gotten our checks. I know that for sure."

Two days after that visit, owner Purcell Branch contacted both ladies.

"They don't owe me anymore money," said Clarke. "I feel great. I feel better. It's a relief for me."

Stuart sent an email thanking us, saying her money and hours are correct. Associated Educational Services of Virginia hasn't offered an explanation.  It provided just a statement saying the company can't discuss personnel issues.

"I'm not sure why he would even put himself in this vulnerable situation to be on the news," said Clarke. "You have relationships with RPS, with other agencies. Why would you want to ruin that? Ruin your reputation behind an employee's check, when you know it's owed to them."

If you can't get paid what you are owed from a former or current employer, the Virginia Department of Labor is happy to look into your complaint. You can reach them at 804-786-2706.

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