25 Investigates: Bounced checks leave workers unpaid again at Roxbury nursing home

ROXBURY, Mass. — Some workers at a nonprofit Roxbury nursing home are once again going without pay, 25 Investigates reveals.

On Wednesday, an employee at Benjamin Healthcare Center told Investigative Reporter Ted Daniel that their Jan. 5 paycheck bounced.

That employee provided Daniel with a copy of a redacted paycheck from Friday that was returned for “not sufficient funds.”

The employee – who requested anonymity for fear of losing his job – said that banks have been reaching out to staff to alert them that their paychecks from Friday are no good.

The union that represents the workers confirms it has received similar complaints - and that union leaders are in contact with the state Attorney General’s office.

Molly McGlynn, a spokesperson for the AG’s office, said the office is “updated on and aware of this matter.”

And the AG’s office says anyone who believes their rights are being denied should file a complaint with the Fair Labor Division.

Nursing home President and CEO Tony Francis told 25 Investigates that he’s concerned about the pay issue and working to fix it.

“This is a very important concern for us and our employees,” Francis emailed. “We are working to resolve this matter expeditiously. All employees will be paid and fees incurred covered.”

In December, 25 Investigates reported that frontline workers did not get paid for weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The Roxbury nursing home has 200 beds, though the majority are empty: about 80 residents live there.

CEO Francis, meanwhile, makes over $600,000 a year.

Francis walked away from 25 Investigates’ questions when Daniel approached him in December.

In emails, he blamed “major fiscal challenges” he said he was working to address.

It appears those challenges persist.

The anonymous employee says he’s afraid to identify himself because of what happened to his former co-worker -- Rudis Santos.

“Your employment with the company will end effective January 2, 2024,” reads a letter dated Jan. 2 from the nursing home to Santos.

Santos was fired from his job as a housekeeper just weeks after he appeared in our previous report.

In an email, Francis said Santos was disciplined at least five times for no-shows and tardiness.

Francis said the nursing home “made many attempts to work with Mr. Santos.”

The union that represents Benjamin employees confirmed to 25 Investigates they “filed a grievance to reinstate” Santos, saying they hope the issue will “be addressed soon.”

“They can do whatever they want,” Santos said. “I’m not going to be afraid… shut my mouth because i’m not afraid of them.”

Tim Foley, 1199SEIU Executive Vice president, said that the financial distress at the nursing home is at “crisis level.”

“It is clear that the financial distress occurring at Edgar p. Benjamin healthcare center is at crisis level, putting caregivers and residents in a precarious position,” Foley said in an emailed statement.

“It is absolutely unacceptable to expect caregivers to be able to continue providing care when they aren’t paid and are unable to care for themselves,” he said. “To address the immediate payroll issues – union staff are at the nursing home meeting with members, have spoken to Mr. Francis directly and have been working with the attorney general’s office to ensure that the home’s workers are paid fully and promptly.”

Foley said 1199SEIU is urging the Attorney General’s office, the Department of Public Health, and the Healey-Driscoll administration to “step in immediately to safeguard care for our most vulnerable by providing urgent enhanced oversight of this nursing home.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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