Originally created 04/24/04

Workers likely won't recoup unpaid wages



The prospect of getting paid is rather slim for former Click Dot Care employees.

The telemarketing company formerly known as FutureCall closed April 16, owing 21Ž2 weeks' worth of pay to all 342 employees of the Stevens Creek Road call center.

The workers probably will not see any of the money, according to an April 15 letter to employees by CEO Ron Berthiaume, which was obtained Friday by The Augusta Chronicle.

"The company is attempting to get access to all available capital in order to cover these expenses, but it is unlikely that it will be able to make any further payroll payments in the immediate future," wrote Mr. Berthiaume, who also was CEO of FutureCall.

Leslie Sanders, who handled payroll since the company moved to Augusta in 1997, said the company owes about $120,000 to employees.

Company spokeswoman Dawn Perkins previously said the company employed about 150 people at the Stevens Creek Road facility, but Ms. Sanders said 342 people were on the payroll when the company closed.

Repeated calls Friday to Mr. Berthiaume and Ms. Perkins were not returned.

The loss of a major contract coupled with financial difficulties associated with the federal Do Not Call list forced the business to close.

It is still unclear how many people Click Dot Care employed at its Colorado Springs, Colo., headquarters and Omaha, Neb., call center or whether those employees were paid.

Jack Long, an Augusta employment attorney who represented workers at King Mill in a similar situation a few years ago, said employees have a priority claim on any assets the company has so long as those assets have not already been pledged to other creditors.

It is doubtful the company has any assets to cover the payroll.

The company owns no real estate and leased much of its equipment, according to a letter sent to creditors in December by company attorney Jon Clarke.

Mr. Clarke said any assets FutureCall had were valued in the low six figures. He urged creditors not to seek collection action.

Mr. Long said the employees could force Click Dot Care into involuntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy. That would allow employees seeking back wages to examine the company's financial records to see what funds, if any, could be available to them.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division has contacted Click Dot Care officials about getting the employees paid. Division Investigator Tony Young said it is too early in the process to tell what will happen.

Reach James Gallagher at (706) 823-3227 or james.gallagher@augustachronicle.com.

UNPAID WORKERS

If you haven't been properly paid for the time you worked at Click Dot Care, contact the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hours Division at (706) 860-6557.