First paycheck: '$13. It was just a slap in the face'

First paycheck: '$13. It was just a slap in the face' »Play Video

EUGENE, Ore. -- In mid-March, Jason Bowhan of Eugene found himself unemployed and in need of an income.

The Eugene native kicked off his job hunt by searching for janitorial job listings on Craigslist. Within 24 hours, Bowhan found a job, completed an interview and began work as a janitor for Gran Master Cleaning, Incorporated. 

After two weeks of work, Bowhan said he was happy to have a job - but shocked to see his first paycheck.

“Thirteen dollars. It was just a slap in the face,” said Bowhan.

According to Bowhan’s pay documentation, he got $13.25 out of the $186 dollars he earned working part time for his boss, Eugene businessman Patrick R. Shipley.

“I confronted [Shipley] about it asking where the rest of the money was and he was like ‘If you don’t want to work, I’m sorry,’” said Bowhan. “I said well, ‘I don’t want to come to work and not get paid. That’s the problem.’”

According to state labor records, Bowhan isn’t the only person to claim that Shipley shorted him on wages.

The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) recently filed a “complaint for statutory injunction” in response to 16 complaints from Shipley’s employee within the last six years.

Shipley refused to speak with KVAL News for this report.

“In cases like this where you have multiple violations, ignoring the Bureau of Labor over a six year period, no. I don't think there's any benefit of the doubt that he's entitled to anymore,” said BOLI Commissioner Brad Avakian.

According to a BOLI investigation, the bulk of complaints came from Shipley’s Nationwide Cleaning Company, Inc.

BOLI reports that beginning in March 2005 and continuing through July 2010, BOLI received a total of 11 claims from employees of Nationwide stating that they had not received the wages to which they were entitled.

BOLI reports that two claims came from employees of Pacific Northwest Cleaning Company Inc. and three claims came from employees of Gran Master Cleaning. 

Commissioner Avakian said the state issued the injunction to demand a bond of $14,869.40 to assure employees would be paid their wages, a number determined based on payroll information supplied to BOLI.

The injunction required Shipley pay the bond within 10 days. As of Wednesday, April 13, he had yet to pay that bond and continued to underpay employees like Bowhan.

The injunction lists Shipley as owner of  Cleaning Extraordinaire; Chiefs Cleaning; Around the Corner Cleaning: Grizzly Adams Cleaning: High Maintenance Cleaning; Nationwide Cleaning Co. Inc.; The Pacific Northwest Cleaning Co. Inc; Gran Master Cleaning; and Irish Knights Cleaning.

Because Shipley had not paid the bond, BOLI officials subsequently asked a court to sign a letter of default. BOLI officials said that letter could be signed as early as this week. 

Commissioner Avakian said when the motion is signed it would shut down Shipley's businesses. 

Avakian said Shipley still must post bond or be held in contempt of court.

Bowhan said he’s happy the state is taking action against Shipley, but wondered why it allowed him to cheat workers for six years.

Commissioner Avakian said it’s unusual for BOLI seek a court order against a business because they try to keep people employed.

“Well we impose civil penalties and we make sure the workers get paid,” said Avakian. “We want businesses to be able to pay for the violation but continue operating so that their employees continue to get paid, but the time has just run out on this fellow.”

In 2009, BOLI found former Eugene restaurateur Morgan Sanchez in contempt of court and sentenced her to 90 days in jail for violating an injunction similar to that against Shipley.