Investigation Into Unpaid Wage Claims Continues
HARLINGEN – Three Rio Grande Valley men are awaiting jury selection in what the FBI is calling a $150 million Medicare fraud scheme involving fraudulent home health care businesses.
Meanwhile, more local home health workers are coming forward with unpaid wage claims.
The Texas Workforce Commission says in 2018 alone, more than 35 unpaid wage claims totaling more than $30,000 were linked to that specific fraud scheme.
The agency is still investigating as new unpaid wage claims continue pouring in.
CHANNEL 5 NEWS was at Workforce Solutions in Weslaco when two victims filled out their claim forms for unpaid wages on a different home healthcare company.
Mario Espinoza said he’s waited on his former employer, Fey’s Home Health, to pay up since June 2017. He says they owe him a month’s worth of pay, upwards of $1,200.
Espinoza said trying to get it back has been endless phone calls.
“No answer. We only call to a number and they tell us your (paychecks) on hold. Call us back. That’s it,” he explained.
We had him call the number while our cameras were rolling. That’s when we learned Espinoza’s former employer was filing for bankruptcy, which could be bad news.
The TWC says a wage claim cannot be accepted if your employer has filed for bankruptcy. On top of that, wage claim forms need to be filled out within 180 days. Espinoza is closer to 365.
Regardless, the agency says everyone who believes they’re owed unpaid wages should file a form, no matter what. They have people at locations across the Valley to help you.
“If they need a little help navigating through the form or understanding the process they can ask to speak to one of our representatives,” explained Geri Escobar, career center manager at the Weslaco Workforce Solutions office. “We’ll sit with them and help them understand the form.”
You should come prepared with information about your employer, the amount of money you’re owed, and the specific dates you were not paid for.
TWC says wage claims can’t be accepted if the employer files for bankruptcy.
Rodney Mesquias with BRM Home Health, who we named in our last investigation, attempted to file for bankruptcy but his claim was dismissed.
TWC’s labor law department investigates every complaint.
Although Texas State Payday Law says everyone is entitled to wages they earned, they say filling out a wage claim form isn’t a guarantee you’ll get your compensation.
“It’s going to be under review, and it’s going to be dependent on the Labor Law Department to determine if they are actually owed wages, or not,” explained Escobar.
Something that seems unfair, Espinoza says. He says he just wants to be paid for the time he worked.
If you feel you’re owed unpaid wages, TWC says you should fill out your form within 180 days. You can fill one out at any Workforce Solutions office or online.
After you fill out the form, there’s a determination process that takes place during TWC’s investigation.
Your claim is reviewed before a copy is mailed to your employer. Your employer has two weeks to respond.
After an investigator is assigned, cases can take 12 to 14 weeks to complete. Then, they issue a determination.
If your claim is denied, you can begin an appeal process.
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