Greenbelt residents may have heard about the wage disputes that janitors, who work at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda and two other federal facilities, are having with their employer.
Until Tuesday, about 300 janitors had not been paid for the previous two weeks of work. Last Friday, the workers, who are employed by a contractor and not directly by the government, were told that they were not going to receive the missing paychecks, but early this week the Maryland-based company did in fact finally pay the workers.
Some workers, however, were worried about cashing the checks because some paychecks from the previous pay period had bounced.
The contractor blamed the late payment on an invoice problem it had with the federal government. Apparently, the contractor’s October invoice to the government contained an error and the government returned it for corrections. Because the contractor had not been paid by the government, it didn’t pay its workers, according to news reports.
This presents a very serious employment law concern. The workers were employed by the contractor, and workers typically have a right to be paid properly regardless of problems the employer may be having getting paid itself. Maryland’s wage payment law is very complex, however.
When someone is paid late, particularly someone who lives paycheck-to-paycheck, major problems can erupt. These workers reportedly earn $13.97 per hour.
In addition to the bounced and late paychecks, the employer also stopped paying employee health care premiums in June.
The company’s contract with Walter Reed is ending, and that may be related to these shortcomings. The company, however, still has legal obligations to its employees and such obligations generally include paying workers for hours worked.
Hopefully, this issue has been resolved and it will not be a problem in the upcoming pay period.
Source: Huffington Post, “Walter Reed Janitors Say They’ve Been Stiffed By Federal Contractor,” Dave Jamieson, Nov. 13, 2012
- Our employment law firm handles issues like those discussed in this post. More information is available on our Maryland Wage Payment Law page.