Local company tells employees it can't make payroll, but asks workers to still clock in

- Imagine if you have been working, but haven’t received a cent for any of the work that you’ve done since January.

On top of that, you’ve been paying into your health insurance through your job, but haven’t been getting coverage since the end of 2015. 

Unfortunately, this is the reality for folks working at a local Charlotte company.

To really bring it home, the source we spoke with says the wife of one of the employees is pregnant.  So all the prenatal care she’s been getting since January 1st has not been covered.

We’re told none of the employees found out until just recently.

“It is bad upon bad upon bad.”

Can you imagine - just hours before payday - getting this kind of email from your boss.

“We can’t make payroll. Do whatever you need to do.”

That’s what ‘John’ says happened at a locally owned company in Charlotte called SmartCore.

He says the company installs networking, fire alarm and security systems. Its recent projects include the veteran affairs facilities in Charlotte, Kernersville, and Anderson.

By the way, 'John' is not his real name.

“The owners were like, ‘we’re sorry. Good luck. But could you still show up to work even though we can’t pay you’.”

‘John’ says they made the request in an email sent to all employees.

Asking people to keep working without pay is illegal according to local attorney Corey Rosensteel.

“People who come to work are entitled to a paycheck. Not providing that paycheck is a violation of the wage and hour act in North Carolina.”

The company admits its workers weren’t paid last week, telling us that was “due to non-payment of valid accounts receivable from 2015 for two large construction projects with a company out of Greensboro…. We were unable to make payroll on Friday.”

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Documents show the employees have been paying their health insurance premiums without receiving coverage since January 1st.

“Couple people had doctor appointments, filled up prescriptions. Then they found out nobody had medical insurance,” said ‘John’.

Rosensteel says that’s an even bigger issue.

“If they’re taking money out of your paycheck and not paying for the health insurance they’re supposed to, they could be criminally liable. They could also be liable for any problems you have financially as a result of the lack of coverage.”

But the company – SmartCore – says it wasn’t aware of the lapse. “We were told by our insurance provider that we have until the end of February to pay for our company healthcare coverage.  As of last week, they dropped our coverage without any notice.”

What the future holds for SmartCore?

“The employees were left holding the bag. Now everybody is scrambling what to do,” said ‘John’.

We’re told several employees have gone to the labor board and were told they can only start looking into it after 10 days pass after the last paycheck was supposed to be cut.

SmartCore says they’re working to resolve these issues and will continue to operate in the meantime.

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