The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Assisted-living workers say they weren’t paid
BY JIM HALL
Workers at MicAnd Assisted Living, including those who bathed, fed and gave medicines to the elderly residents, say they have not been paid for their final days of work.
One worker said she is owed $850. Another said she is due $1,080. A third, who is owed almost $1,500, said because she was not paid, her car was repossessed and she received an eviction notice.
“I feel betrayed,” said Mary Penn, a medication aide. “I took them by their word that they were going to pay us.”
MicAnd had 57 residents when Patricia Newman and Sandra Lamb, who operated the home, told state regulators that they planned to close. The last of the residents were moved on Aug. 10. The building on Onyx Court in Spotsylvania County is now vacant.
Newman, reached by phone yesterday, said that the workers are not telling the truth. She declined to comment further.
“These people need to take it up with their lawyers if they feel that we’ve done something improper or if they weren’t paid,” she added.
Four workers disputed Newman, saying that they did not receive paychecks on Aug. 20, which should have been their final payday. They said they know of at least six others who were not paid.
Michelle Tucker, a 21-year-old medication technician from Spotsylvania County, said that about half the 20-person staff resigned after Newman and Lamb told state regulators that they planned to close. The workers who remained pulled double shifts and took on extra duties, Tucker said.
“A lot of people worked really hard to help that last month go by as smoothly as possible,” she said.
Tucker said she and another worker arrived for work on one of the last days and were told to fix a meal for residents. She said they went to Walmart and bought frozen lasagna and served that along with salad and garlic bread.
“We didn’t know how to use anything in the kitchen,” she said.
Workers at the home were usually paid twice a month. In recent months, they were paid with personal checks, rather than payroll checks, with no evidence that federal or state taxes were withheld, they said. For one pay period last month, they were paid in cash, they said.
A spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Social Services, which regulates assisted-living centers, said in an email that the department was not aware that MicAnd’s workers had not been paid. The department did not know if MicAnd had been paying state and federal taxes, she said. Asked if the state knew of vendors who had not been paid, the spokeswoman replied, “Possibly water and electric.”
The department would not make anyone available to talk about MicAnd.
Tucker said she worked at the home for 18 months and remained there until it closed because she wanted to collect unemployment benefits and because she did not want to abandon the residents. Tucker said she earned $11 an hour and is owed for 80 hours, or $880.
Mary Penn, a 39-year-old resident of Culpeper, was a medication aide and night shift supervisor. She worked at the home for eight months. Penn said she earned $12 per hour and is owed for 133 hours, or about $1,600.
“We gave our word that we would stay with them until the end, and they gave their word that we would get paid on Aug. 20 which didn’t happen,” Penn said.
Penn said when she did not get her final check, her Buick LeSabre was repossessed, and she got an eviction notice from her landlord.
“If they don’t come through in time for me to keep my place, I will have nowhere to go,” she said.
Carolyn James, a supervisor at the home, said she is owed for 90 hours. She earned $12 an hour, she said, and is due $1,080. James, a resident of Lake Anna, said she worked at the home for almost three years.
“She has not paid anybody,” James said, referring to Newman. “She will not return my calls.”
Bethany Mills, a resident of Fredericksburg, worked at the home for seven months as a medication technician. She said she earned $11 per hour and is owed for 65 hours, or $715.
“I worked a lot of double shifts,” Mills said. “We were always short-staffed.”
Since leaving MicAnd, Mills has been doing in-home care for a local resident.
Tucker said she has moved in with her mother to save money and has enrolled in a community college.
Penn said she started a new job this week doing companion care for a Warrenton company. Her finances remain precarious, she said, since she will not receive her first paycheck at her new job until later this month.
“The way they did things messed me up altogether,” she said.
Jim Hall: 540/374-5433