Shreveport company accused of bouncing paychecks

By Tracy Clemons bio|e-mail

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA)- Employees at Healthy Choices LLC, a small private sitting agency in Shreveport, claim their boss has been handing out paychecks that have bounced. The people who work there help elderly and disabled people around their homes.

"I started working for Healthy Choices in June," says Jessica Flakes.

Flakes says when she found out after she'd deposited her first check into her account that it was no good.

"They {her bank} told me that my account was $300 in the negative, and I knew that I had $100 in the account. But because I tried to use my card, knowing that I had $100 it kept charging me $35 every time, plus the check."

Now two months later, Flakes says her bank put a hold on a pay check this month because previous pay checks had bounced.

"I called in and the hold was off of the checks, but my account was in the negative for like $650. But I had $500 cash of my own money in the account already, which it took that to cover the checks that were bad."

She says no one has been in the office when she stopped by, nor has anyone returned her calls. We called for two days before anyone answered, only to get a "no comment."

We talked to Pamela Jones, a labor and employment attorney who says this is more common than people may realize. Not to say that everything she says applies to Healthy Choices LLC, which has refused to give us an explanation for what we've been told, but if you're dealing with this kind of problem, there are a few things she says you should know.

"If the payroll check has bounced more than once, then this is an indication that the employer is intending to issue worthless checks. Issuing worthless checks in Louisiana is a crime," says Jones.

Jones says people in this situation should send written notice to an employer that the payroll check on whatever the date, was declined, and demand payment. She says Louisiana statute gives 30 days for them to pay up.

"During that 30 day period, the employee is likely to have another payroll period come up, and if there is another insufficient funds check, the employee probably needs to be talking to the police, the district attorney, about a worthless check charge."

Jessica Flakes says she's already done that.

"At first it was the fact that I just wanted my money...what was owed me. But now, being that there's no sympathy, there's no one trying to help or put any effort to give me my money, I want legal actions taken."

Flakes tells KSLA News 12 that her bank required a cashier's check for her last pay check, which was good. But she still wants the $1200 she says she's owed.

We called the owner several times, and it went to a full voice mail box each time. We also talked to the supervisor, Shawanda Martin, Thursday afternoon, and again she said "no comment" and hung up.

The Louisiana Attorney General's Office has confirmed that it has received three complaints against this company since the fall of 2009. Those were for employees not getting paid on time, insufficient funds, and changing pay schedules. Two of those complaints were resolved, one is still pending.

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