GENEVA — Employees at E-Waste System’s Genesee Street facility say the company has not paid them since Oct. 18, even though they continued working until earlier this month.
Thirteen employees are suing the electronics recycler, which leases space at the Geneva Enterprise Development Center. Meanwhile, the company has been locked out of its space by its landlord, the city’s Industrial Development Agency.
The employees’ attorney, Matthew Fusco of Rochester-based Trevett Cristo Salzer & Andolina, called it an unusual situation.
“I have once before represented a whole bunch of home health aides where the employer locked the door and didn’t pay them their last paycheck,” he said. “I’ve never had a situation where people continued coming to work and not getting paid and the employer didn’t tell them anything.”
E-Waste systems, which is based in England, did not respond to repeated requests for comment. A television lay on the ground out front of the local facility Monday, and the entryway had not been shoveled since at least the last storm.
“E-Waste Systems, Inc. ... is CLOSED and no longer accepting electronic items for recycling,” signs on the front door and window read. “Dropping off items will be considered illegal dumping and will be prosecuted accordingly. Thank you for your cooperation. GEDC Management.”
City Manager Matt Horn said E-Waste Systems defaulted on its lease, prompting the IDA to lock the doors.
“This occurred after multiple interactions with corporate leadership, over a period of several months, in which the IDA attempted to work with the company to keep the firm operating and their staff employed,” Horn said. “We remain ready to work with the company to restart operations once their default has been remedied.”
The IDA has not started eviction proceedings, he said.
What eventually became E-Waste’s Geneva facility opened as 2trg in April 2011. E-Waste acquired 2trg’s assets in December 2013.
In June 2014, when the Finger Lakes Times profiled the company as its Business of the Week, General Manager Don Cass expressed optimism about the new ownership. By late fall that had changed.
Cass is now one of the employees suing for back pay.
Fusco started meeting with Geneva E-Waste employees in January. He said they do not know why the company stopped paying them.
“The manager of the place, Mr. Cass, has been hounding the company about not paying the employees, himself included,” Fusco said at the time.
The employees continued working until the IDA locked the doors, he said.
Fusco said a similar situation occurred at an E-Waste facility in Ohio. The employees there also sued, but E-Waste never responded. He thinks that might happen here too, potentially leading to a default judgment against the company, he said.
Fusco filed his complaint in state Supreme Court of Ontario County. The employees are seeking unpaid wages, attorney’s fees and damages.
“They’re entitled to their lost wages times two,” Fusco said. “That’s the penalty under New York labor law.”