Some at Yamasaki go unpaid since January, complaints say
from Crain's Detroit Business
As lawsuits accumulate against Troy-based architectural firm Yamasaki Associates Inc., the company also is under review by the state for failing to pay some employees for more than two and a half months.
The state Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth Wage and Hour Division reports it has received eight complaints against Yamasaki involving nonpayment of wages since late January.
“We were getting paid on a regular schedule, and then at first it started out where the check was a few days late, then it was a week late, then one of mine bounced back in the fall and had to reissue,” said one Yamasaki employee, a projects manager who asked not to be identified.
“Then they told us they were moving from payday on every other Thursday to once a month. We thought that might help them and make it more consistent, only we haven't actually been paid once since the change.”
The employee said the most recent company paychecks that he and more than 80 percent of the current 50 or so employees received, other than some clerical and secretarial staff, were on Jan. 29.
“What we're told is they aren't paying anyone because they've been using the money to pay rent and utilities, and this is some kind of cash-flow problem,” he said. “But you can't continue to expect your employees to work hard and not pay them, and you have to try to do something.”
A follow up article reports that Architectural firm Yamasaki Associates ‘making good on the payment of claims found due’. However, an anonymous commenter reports that only those who filed complaints were getting compensated and that Yamasaki cancelled health coverage while continuing to deduct health plan fees from paychecks.
While this story is stunning in its scale and brashness it unfortunately reflects a larger reality. In how many other professions would employees work for ten weeks without being paid? How long would autoworkers labor without compensation? What about lawyers or surgeons or consultants?
Even after ten weeks of unpaid work only eight persons brought themselves to file formal complaints.
Why do architects often undervalue themselves and their contributions? What about our culture makes us susceptible to exploitation and intimidation?