I Was A Victim Of Wage Theft

A hectic schedule has kept me from blogging on a regular basis lately. That is both good and bad. The bad part, of course, is that I'm not updating my "followers" as often as I'd like to. The good part is that it is because the cause of the homeless is moving forward, resulting in me spending much of my time in meetings. Therefore, I've decided to post an e-mail that I sent to DC Gov's Dept. of Employment Services (DOES) about the wage theft that I became a victim of at the job I recently lost. In about an hour, I'll be heading to a meeting about a show that will be taped on October 22nd. That show will air on DCTV and will be a panel discussion about the state of homelessness in the District. It will feature DC Government employees and homeless homeless advocates. In the meantime, here's the e-mail.....

A BETTER Desription of My Wage Theft Case

Below is a description of a situation in which I, Eric Jonathan Sheptock, was a victim of wage theft. I sent a less descriptive explanation of the matter to Joe Walsh, the director of DC's Dept. of Employment Services (DOES), on September 29th, being that I was pressed for time. This will (hopefully) be my final draft. I plan to follow-up with a call very soon.....

I was interviewed by Yvette James, the executive director of Housewarming Janitorial Services, LLC on April 7th, 2009. She and I can be seen speaking in a video which is posted on my blog at www.ericsheptock.com . (Scroll down to the April 7th, 2009 video.) Though she has issued paperwork which says that I began working for her on April 8th, my first day of work was actually April 21st. I was scheduled to work 4 hours per day from 6 to 10 PM, Monday through Friday with the exception of holidays. I missed 4 other days of work as a result of a death, a personal issue, having been laid off for one day and a UPO business meeting during which the area of the building where I worked was shut down. My final day of work was September 4th. I returned on the 8th, only to find out that Darryl and I had been terminated for having a non-violent argument on September 3rd.

I was paid $7.00 per hour for my entire time there. At one time I thought that it was due to taxes being taken out at a fixed rate, though I've never been given any paperwork to that effect. I then received word of mouth that Yvette doesn't take out taxes and that her business might not be entirely legitimate. I would find out after my termination that the minimum wage in DC is now 8.25 and that it was 7.55 at the time of my hiring. (See the link below.) Hopefully the information provided in these 2 paragraphs will enable you to figure out how much I was paid and how much I should've been paid, so as to recover what I lost as a matter of wage theft.

I was always paid in cash and received carbon copies of pay receipts (which don't remain legible for very long). In one instance I received a counterfeit $100 bill, which might have actually been the bank's fault.

As of today, September, 30th, I have not received my week-in-the-hole pay of $140.00 (which would actually be $165.00 if I were paid minimum wage). It is partly my fault, in that I haven't had a lot of time to return to the job to get my last check and then had problems with my cell phone. I plan to try to re-contact Yvette and the man who sometimes supervises the sight for her named Ed Paine.

The pay was unfair for another reason. There were no time clocks for punching in. Due to the demands of the job, we had to finish, even if it meant doing more than 4 hours. I often went 15 to 30 minutes over the 4-hour mark, in order to make certain that nothing was left undone. Until the last week of my employment, it was rare to have an on-site supervisor and there is no record of the times that I worked more than 4 hours. Ed Paine would usually come in late in the shift and not stay for long except when he was filling in for a former employee. During my last week of employment, Yvette's mother began to supervise the site.

There have also been issues with my uniforms. I received uniforms about mid-June. They were washed by the uniform company on a weekly basis. For about the first month, I was charged $5 per week to have them washed. Then, without explanation, the price was raised to $10 per week. I've recently learned that this is against the law. I returned the last of my uniforms on Friday, September 18th, but still haven't received my last check for the week in the hole. I have been paid for the week ending September 4th though (at $7 per hour). A dispute over whether or not I returned all of my uniforms is part of why I haven't been paid my week in the hole yet.

The uniform issue is as follows:

----- The uniforms are provided and washed by Cintas Uniforms. They are left in a common area of the building that is used by all employees and is also accessible to non-employees. Neither Yvette nor Ed went through the uniforms with me to see how many I was issued when they arrived in mid-June. About a week prior to my dismissal I overheard Yvette saying that we all had received 11 uniforms and thought that it might present a problem if I ever left that job, not knowing at that time just how close I was to leaving. I had actually had not received 11 uniforms. Besides, I don't know what went on from the time that Cintas dropped them off until the time that I first saw them.

We had to bring our dirty uniforms in every Monday evening so that they could be picked up by Cintas every Tuesday morning. They were left in this common area where I couldn't account for what happened to them. Yvette handed down a rule that we not leave more than 2 clean uniforms at a time on the job. Ed is now saying that it is because I sometimes left more than 2 clean uniforms that 2 pairs of my pants came up missing. That argument doesn't hold water; because, I still had to bring in as many dirty uniforms as i had every Monday whether it be 3 or 5. Uniforms were cleaned in rotation. About half would be picked up by Cintas and the other half dropped off each Tuesday. Anything can happen during the rotation. I spoke to Ed by phone on the evening of September 29th and he said that he is still awaiting an official count from Cintas on what I owe for lost uniforms and that he will contact me as soon as he knows. I will receive the difference between that and my week-in-the-hole pay, as he doesn't want the company to lose any money or to have to pay for my uniforms. -----

Housewarming, LLC is working under contract for the Developing Families Center at 801 17th Street, NE. The building is locate across from the Hechinger Mall Safeway on the other side of 17th Street at 17th and I (eye) and just one block north of Benning Road. The director of DFC is a woman named Dr. Randolph.

I spoke to Dr. Randolph on September 29th so as to inform her that she is in contract with a company whose business might not be entirely legitimate. She understands that this will affect the legality of their contract. I trust that she will take the appropriate actions.

Yvette James -- (202) 683-5020
Ed Paine -- (202) 367-1912

Here is a breakdown of what I believe I'm owed:

$400.00 -- approx. $1.00 per hour for approx. 400 hours
$165.00 -- 20 hours for my week in the hole at the correct rate of $8.25 per hour
$82.50 -- approx. 10 hours of pay forthe uncalculated times that I worked beyond 4 hours per night. (This is probably a gross underestimate.)

TOTAL: $647.50

DOES is more than welcome to add to the damages that I am permitted to collect.

Click the link below and then click "CONTINUE" to see a copy of.....

DC Labor Laws: http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.does.dc.gov%2Fdoes%2Fframes.asp%3Fdoc%3D%2Fdoes%2Flib%2Fdoes%2Fframes%2Fwage_hour_web.pdf&h=5323137ea6e07f1764469b8c23fd0a93

Eric Jonathan Sheptock "The Blogger"
www.ericsheptock.com (blog)
http://dchomelessness.blogspot.com/ (Jan's Blog)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_j6IBdHW_rY Song: "Tell Me Why" (a must-see)
425 2nd St., NW
Washington, DC 20001-2003
(240) 305-5255
"Homes Not Handcuffs" : http://nationalhomeless.org/publications/crimreport/crimreport_2009.pdf
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyqp2f6VPos&feature=related (Mr. Wendal -- by Arrested Development)


You may have another issue here:
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not require that employees wear uniforms. However, if the wearing of a uniform is required by some other law, the nature of a business, or by an employer, the cost and maintenance of the uniform is considered to be a business expense of the employer. If the employer requires the employee to bear the cost, it may not reduce the employee's wage below the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour effective July 24, 2009. Nor may that cost cut into overtime compensation required by the Act.

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