Failed MB call center gets $5k ‘slap on the wrist’ after investigation

Failed Myrtle Beach call center Greenwood Hall has been fined $5,000 by the state after an investigation, and owes its employees more than $35,000 in unpaid wages, according to a S.C. Department of Labor Licensing and Regulation spokesperson.

However, “the wages office does not have the legal authority to collect wages or make an employer pay an employee what is owed,” said SCDLLR spokesperson Lesia Kudelka in an email.

The failed call center courted by the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation set up shop near The Market Common and operated for several weeks before abruptly closing on Dec. 15, 2017, and more than 50 people lost their job.

The SCDLLR issued 25 citations for unpaid wages totaling $35,097, said Kudelka, who added that employees may need to take legal action within three years to claim what they’re owed.

“Just $5,000 stinkin’ dollars and they have no enforcement whatsoever?” said former employee Robert Hawkins. “Makes sense I guess.”

Myrtle Beach EDC President Josh Kay said the company received no money up front, although it could have received $75,000 in incentives had it stayed open.

Securities and Exchange Commission filings revealed that the company was in poor financial health, borrowing $3.5 million in 2016.

Greenwood Hall’s second-quarter report with the SEC showed it had no cash assets and had operated at a loss in the three months leading up to May 31, 2017.

CEO Bill Bradfield said in a previous interview that a deal to keep the company in business fell through the night before it closed.

A letter from AnswerNet, the company that took over one of Greenwood Hall’s call centers before the closure, alleges that many clients departed when the failed call center shut down its Texas office.

The Texas closure on Nov. 30 occurred before the Myrtle Beach location was operational, leaving some clients without service, the letter said.

While Hawkins has found a job, he said some of the former employees are still out of work

“There are still some that have not found work and that’s really sad because this is no longer news,” he said. “That’s old news. There needs to be more accountability than some corporation getting some $5,000 slap on the wrist.”

Christian Boschult: 843-626-0218, @TSN_Christian

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