BOSTON – Estelle Jones has been a registered nurse for more than four decades. Now retired, she earns extra money picking up shifts for agencies that staff long term care facilities. Estelle says she has always been paid for her work, until recently. “I completed the assignment. everything. I have not been compensated 120 hours,” Estelle said. “I think it’s outrageous.”
Owed more than $7,000 since March, Estelle says she worked for Rapid Response Staffing Agency in Canton, filling in on overnight shifts at a nursing home in Stoneham. Estelle tells the I-Team, “I have gone into the office, I’ve sent her emails, I’ve texted her. She’s changing payrolls, she is going to wire it into my account. She paid eight hours on April 3. One shift.”
No one answered the door at the company’s office. We got a recorded message when we called their phone number. The agency is owned by Kettly Saint Fleur, a licensed practical nurse according to her LinkedIn profile. When the I-Team didn’t find her at the office we went to her home in Attleboro. She came to the door and called the police. Telling us in a text message, “Rapid Response has no comment at this time. We cannot comment on confidential employee matters.”
Estelle says she is not paying her, and she really needs the money. According to Estelle she is not alone. Coworkers also had trouble getting paid. We listened to a voicemail message a colleague left on her phone telling Estelle to keep emailing Saint Fleur to get her money.
Looking for answers, the I-Team reached out to the long-term care facility where Estelle worked her shifts. They told us they paid Rapid Response Staffing Agency’s invoices, and it was their responsibility to pay Estelle her wages.
Not paying workers is called wage theft. Arevealed the practice is widespread in Massachusetts costing workers billions and the state tens of millions in revenue. We caught up with the head of the Attorney General’s Fair Labor Division at a wage theft clinic earlier this year. “It’s stealing. So, if you work and don’t get paid your employer is stealing from you,” Assistant Attorney General Lauren Moran said. “It’s the same as if you know they went into your wallet and took money from you.”
Days after the I-Team started asking questions about Estelle’s wages, she got an email from Rapid Response claiming there were discrepancies in her timesheets and the company deposited nearly $3,000 in her checking account. “I wouldn’t have gotten any of it if it wasn’t for you,” Estelle said. “I appreciate you.”
Estelle said the company is now corresponding with her and is hopeful she will be paid the rest of the money she is owed.