4/19/2014

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State investigating complaints against gyms owned by former NFL star

State investigating complaints against gyms owned by former NFL star

HILLSBORO, Ore. – An Oregon Athletic club is accused of not paying its employees, and KATU News has learned the situation is now impacting its members, too.

Two different state agencies are looking into the complaints against several gyms with the same owner, former Seahawks football star, Sam Adams.

The Bureau of Labor and Industries received at least 10 complaints from employees in the last few months and has an open investigation right now. The Oregon Department of Justice also has at least three open cases.

At least seven consumers complained since this summer.

One of the employees affected is Tiffany Stafford, a single mother who depends on her job as a personal trainer to support her son.

So when her paycheck from Hawthorne Farm Athletic Club in Hillsboro bounced and the replacement check couldn't be cashed days later, Stafford started to panic. She was almost kicked out of her home for late rent.

"I have a beautiful home for myself and my son because I work hard, and having someone take that away from me even though I'm doing the work has been emotional," she said.

Stafford is one of several employees coming forward from the half dozen health clubs in the Northwest now owned by Adams.

Stafford says he's apologized to her but continues to make excuses, blaming the bank.

KATU reached Adams, who lives in Seattle, by phone on Friday. He said his companies have a new computer system that he's learning.

"I take full responsibility for it," said Adams. "We need to learn the system better. We need to make sure everyone is taken care of. Employees and members are equally as important and we want to provide the best service we possibly can."

Adams said he doesn't anticipate any more probelms.

"We will continue to do our best. We are not going anywhere," said Adams.

Stafford says he's stalling and it is just more of the same, impacting her clients now, too.

"Our gas gets shut off on occasion, our cable television gets shut off – there's no hot showers," she said.

It gets worse.

Stafford says the club has denied its members who want to cancel their month to month automatic payment plan, and it's gotten so bad, some of those members have had to cancel their credit cards just to stop to paying.

"We're all pretty scared, pretty nervous about what's going to happen to the club," Stafford said. "They need better communication; they need to tell members and employees what's really going on – everyone is scared the clubs are going to shut down.

Depending on what the state investigation finds and how much the company cooperates, this ultimately could end with a lawsuit or even the company losing its Oregon business license.

For now, Stafford finally got paid just Wednesday. That's only after she spoke with Adams herself and was told she's on a certain list of people who should get paid.

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