3 On Your Side

UPDATE: Business still not paying employees

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3 On Your Side has profiled this company before. Since then, more employees have come forward saying they too have not been paid.

So, once again, 3 On Your Side stopped by the company to find out what's the problem. Why are they hiring, but then not paying?

Gary Harper: "We've tried setting up an interview and you guys have been dodging us."

Celeste Padilla: "I haven't dodged you."

Harper: "You haven't, your brother has."

It's a family run business, that some claim lacks family values.

The business goes by different names including Epcon Electric, Epcon Solar and P I C Construction.

But regardless of the name, former employees like Lonnie Kampe and Robert Simpson say the family business is refusing to pay them.

"It really hurts my family, we're on the verge of losing all our vehicles, says Kampe. "We can't pay our bills. We're having a hard time feeding ourselves."

Simpson too says he's having a hard time making ends meet and paying all his bill.

"Car payments, house payments, food, I'm running on savings."

3 On Your Side profiled the two electricians in February.

They too, complained Epcon gave them paychecks that bounced or never paid them.

When the company wouldn't return 3 On Your Side's phone calls, we went to one of the business locations where management obviously didn't want to talk and sped off instead of answering questions.

Harper: "Why aren't you paying your employees? Why do you owe so many people thousands of dollars?"

Since that report aired, nearly a dozen former employees came forward claiming the same thing.

Records filed with the State show Pablo Curiel is associated with all the businesses.

Although his Facebook page shows him looking cheerful, his prison mug shot from an aggravated assault conviction shows a less joyful expression.

Which brings us back to our most recent visit.

Harper: "I wanted to talk with you and Pablo about some non-payment for employees.”

Padilla: "We can set up an interview."

Now, the woman we spoke to is Celeste Padilla. She's Pablo's sister and her signature is on many of those worthless checks.

Harper: "Can you tell me why the employees haven't been paid?"

Padilla: "Sir, please don't record me. I need you to leave please."

Harper: "The camera stays on where I go"

Padilla: "I'm asking you to leave now, if you'd like to set up an interview I'd be happy to do that. I know my attorney extended out to you guys."

Harper: "No he has not."

Well after my visit, their attorney John Frutkin finally agreed to talk to 3 On Your Side and claimed Pablo Curiel, his sister, and the family business are also victims because big companies they did work for, never paid them.

"This isn't the sort of thing where somebody absconded with the money," says Frutkin. "This is a situation where a business didn't get paid for the work that they did and the management and employees haven't been paid either."

So what can Kampe, Simpson and all the other former employees given rubber checks do now?

Ernest Calderon specializes in labor and employment law.

"What they can do in the short term, is file an unemployment claim with the state. They have been constructively discharged, in other words the employer hasn't said 'you're fired' but since the employer hasn't paid them they have no choice but to leave so based on that they can file a claim for unemployment."

It's a temporary solution, but Lonnie and Robert wonder just how many people are currently working at Epcon only to find themselves in the same situation.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, it's important for you to file a claim with the Arizona Industrial Commission, which is the labor board and to also file a complaint with the Attorney General's Office at the link below.


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