In Salem, Oregon, a single mother of two waits for over a thousand dollars in child support she is due. She waits...and waits...and waits...and the people who can help her have turned a deaf ear to her plea and her circumstances. Unlike other child support situations, however, the culprit is not an irresponsible father, dubbed by society as a "deadbeat dad", but rather a "deadbeat employer".
Bryan Casey was employed to operate the Business Development Center for Joe's Premier Ford, owned by Joe Khorasani, who currently operates Milwaukie Hyundai and Hillsboro Hyundai. He started working for the Ford dealership in September, leaving a job in Salem to travel the 100 miles per day to help Khorasani and his sales team generate automobile sales through their internet department and by folllowing up with customers by phone.
The rumors started flying in late November that the dealership, Joe's Premier Ford and its owner, Khorasani, were having serious problems staying afloat as service providers and advertising agents began terminating their business relationships with the dealer for non-payment of services. "I'd be on the phone, asking some questions about advertising or internet postings for Joe's Ford, and next thing I knew, I was being routed to their 'Accounts Receivable' department. It was embarrassing." said Casey.
By the end of the first week in December, things were getting sticky when the employees found out that executives from Ford Motor Company had travelled to the dealership and had demanded the keys to the cars on the lot. Within a couple of days, it was leaked to employees that Khorasani had a falling out with Ford, but he was going to try to salvage the situation and hopefully all would be well within a couple of weeks.
On Friday, December fifth, employees got a new story, that the Ford dealership had been purchased by Ralph Martinez of Town and Country dealerships, that it would be business as usual over the weekend, the new owner would take over Monday, and everyone still had a job. Everyone was to expect their paychecks that afternoon. The payday time came and went, and two hours late, the General Manager, Jerry Hudson, and the Chief Financial Officer for the Premier dealerships, Dan Powell, told employees that the store was closing and they could all go home. The sales employees received checks representing a small portion of what they had actually earned in November and the first week in December, but were promised by Powell that they would receive a phone call on Monday telling them when they could pick up the rest of what was owed them. Oregon state law requires the employer to pay the employees in full, in the event of a closure, no later than the end of the next business day, which would have been Monday, December eighth.
It was six weeks before paychecks were issued, which meant that Khorasani owed his unpaid employees a full days wages for up to 30 days following the business closure, according to the regulations of Oregon's Bureau of Labor and Industries. The penalties owed were not included in their paychecks, and more than one employee found their checks were short, including those who were owed for vacation pay they did not receive.
Bryan Casey received his paycheck in the mail on the 15th of January, about six weeks after Joe's Premier Ford closed its doors. The check was short the penalties owed and a hundred dollars Casey was owed for December, but he was happy he had finally received something and that his ex-wife and two sons would benefit from the child support from the earnings to which they were entitled.
The two checks issued to Casey showed that $847.20 had been withheld from the larger of the two checks, and that $195.51 was taken out of the second check, covering the first week of December. "I was elated, I knew that within a few days my ex-wife would have the money, and I knew she needed it badly. I had been unable to buy a single Christmas present for Lynn, my two sons, or anyone else in my family, but what really mattered was that she was getting what she and my sons deserved."
A week passed, then two, and in the third week, Bryan sent an email to Jerry Hudson, General Manager of Joe's Premier Ford at the time it closed, and Dan Powell, the CFO of the company. He thought the dealership had made an honest mistake, and would quickly forward the child support money to the state of Oregon to be sent to Bryan's ex-wife. The email response he received from Dan Powell both shocked and disappointed him. In it, Dan Powell had written, "JK Gladstone Ford, LLC is currently a defendant in a lawsuit filed by a secured creditor of the legal entity...given the current legal situation I will refrain from making any promises on behalf of the LLC one way or the other..."
"How can they do that?" Casey asked. "I worked hard for them, they lied to their employees repeatedly, then paid them six weeks late, a number of them receiving less than what they were owed, then they in effect tell me they'll send the child support money to the state in my behalf, and then...nothing. My ex-wife and sons need that money. I earned it in November and early December, it wasn't given to me until the middle of January, this lawsuit Powell talked about, which involved Ford Motor Credit and Khorasani, wasn't even filed until late January, after I had been paid, and now they're telling me that the child support won't be paid because of a non-related lawsuit? That's criminal behavior. That's theft of money owed to a single mom and her two sons."
Casey provided a copy of the email from the dealership, his check stubs, and other pertinent information to the Marion County District Attorney's office and they have assigned an attorney to review the file and contact the dealership. As it stands, though, Joe Khorasani and his agent, Dan Powell, have no plan in place to pay Bryan Casey's ex-wife, a single mother of two living north of Salem, a penny of the $1042.71 they kept, ostensibly to forward to the state of Oregon.
"I can't believe it. I mean, this guy's still in business, still has two dealerships in operation. He's still selling cars and making money, and he's keeping what I earned, what is owed in child support to my ex-wife, money I'm happy to pay. He's not acting in a professional manner. He's acting like a thief. Pay up, Joe. I pity anyone who works for you or anyone who does business with you, because your actions speak volumes about your character."