At a time of year when some workers are receiving holiday bonuses, employees at a luxury inn in Albemarle County say they’re having to go without paychecks that were due to them weeks ago after the hotel changed ownership.
But employees say the former owners failed to fulfill payroll obligations before turning over the keys.
Now, they're hurting during Christmastime and fighting for the money they say they're owed.
“They’re breaking the law, you know, these are wages,” says Aris Cuadra, Clifton Inn’s executive chef.
Employees at the Clifton Inn are accusing the boutique hotel's previous owners of failing to pay wages that were due around the time of its sale.
“We’re in the hospitality business and our job is to take care of people, and sometimes we lose sight of that very fundamental people who take care of those people and that’s our staff,” says Cuadra.
Workers say wages for hourly staff, which were due December 5, and for salaried managers, due on December 10, still have not been paid. And during this holiday season, that lack of payment is taking its toll.
“It’s worse than not just being able to buy gifts,” says Cuadra. “I’ve had people say that they had to borrow money to buy food and haven’t been able to pay electric bills and things of that nature.”
Cuadra acts as the spokesperson for the staff and has received several emails from the previous owners in which they continuously assure workers that the wages will be paid.
One email dated December 11 reads, "We will be making the hourly payroll payments today, less a small withholding - and that small withholding will be paid in the next few days.”
Cuadra confirms a small payment was made following this exchange, but that the majority of the wages remain unpaid.
“We just get a lot of runaround, a lot of stalling, and running around, and we all just believe they either don’t have the money to pay it and they’re buying time or just not sure,” says Cuadra.
Some of the employees say they are looking into taking legal action.
In a statement, the previous owners claim the debts are due to confusion about whether they or the new owners are responsible for the payments.
Mitch and Emily Wiley, the former owners, say they valued their employees and they're working diligently to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. They claim they will pay the money owed after Christmas.
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