Campbell County workers accuse employer of not paying them for weeks

JACKSBORO, Tenn. (WATE) - When you put in a hard week of work, you expect to be paid. A group of women in Campbell County says their employer hasn't paid them for weeks.

The women said they have waited weeks to be fully paid by Tammy Walker, their employer. Walker operates AMA, American Made Apparel, in Jacksboro, a sewing factory with a military contract.  She also owns and operates a restaurant, Grace's Place in Jacksboro. 

The women are employed as seamstresses, waitresses and cooks.

"I'm owed for four weeks which should be over $400," said Vanessa DuMont, an employee of Grace's Place.

"She doesn't pay her employees. We never filled out any forms, no employment applications, no W-2 forms, nothing" said Tasha David, another Grace's Place employee.

"We're supposed to be paid weekly and we do not get paid.  People are losing their homes. Tammy Walker is continuing to allow it to happen," said Christie Hill, a seamstress at AMA.

Some of the seamstresses confronted Walker at the factory last week. When they asked when they would be paid, Walker is heard in a recording saying, "I'll let you know after a while."

Walker's employees said if they don't get paid soon, they'll file complaints with the state labor board, the first step in seeking their money. 

"When you are working to make a living for your family, you expect to be paid, and we want our money," said Angela Wilson, an employee of Walker's who is also mother to three children.

Ashley Phillips saved text messages sent to her by Walker as she asked about her back wages.

"She said it has been made very clear that you are owed and will be paid," said Phillips. "I busted my hind end for her everyday that I went to work. It was like, I wasn't good enough for her. It seemed like nothing at all was good enough."

WATE 6 On Your Side went to the sewing factory to hear Walker's side of the story.

"What I explained to them is and they know, we got paid late on our last - we're getting paid late, so some of them are four days late on their pay," said Walker.

Walker said she's asked her AMA factory workers to gather up their time cards. 

WATE 6 On Your Side told Walker the workers say they haven't been paid in weeks.

"That's not true, that's what we've been going through here, to get exact dates because we have everyone sign for their checks," Walker countered.

She was also asked about back pay for the workers at Grace's Place.

"If I owe someone money, I have never denied it, I have always paid it. There is nobody that I have never not paid," she said.

She said, again, she's done nothing wrong, and that employees will be paid within days.

"We work to make it week to week. Here we are worrying about our lights, our water getting cut off," said Mary Weaver, a worker at Grace's Place.

"I want her to pay people. We don't want it to happen to anybody else. We stand together," said Christie Hill.

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development monitors non-payment complaints. Violations of wage and hour laws can result in civil penalties. The department said on Monday its labor standards unit is presently investigating Walker and that five cases of wage payment violations have been filed against Grace's Place.

Walker maintains she has violated no rules and will have all payment issues settled soon. Some of the employees say as of Monday afternoon, they have still not been paid.


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