Lighthouse Immersive said employees will see sick hours starting December 30, blaming payroll software for the error. Employees are estimated to have missed $ 11,000 in sick leave.
MINNEAPOLIS – For months, employees working at the Immersive Van Gogh exhibit in Minneapolis were not accumulating sick and safety hours, a mandate from the City of Minneapolis ordinance.
According to former exhibition director Quang-Minh Tran, this resulted in an estimated loss of $ 11,200 in accumulated sickness hours.
Parent company Lighthouse Immersive, just hours after being contacted for this story on December 21, sent a message to its Minneapolis employees telling them that sick and safety hours will be added to future paychecks and his work. to comply with the City of Minneapolis ordinance. On December 31, the company told its employees they could access their sick hours with the next paycheck.
Any former employee, as well as current employees, who must be absent from work due to illness can claim a check after Jan. 7, according to Lighthouse.
“We feel bad about it, as soon as we realized it we tried to rectify the situation as quickly as possible, by working with Paylocity,” said a spokesperson for Lighthouse.
Three company employees told KARE 11 that their inquiries go back several weeks, with little response from senior management until the issue was made public.
Lighthouse Immersive, however, told KARE 11 that the issue is lingering due to software complications from its payroll company, Paylocity.
Paylocity told KARE 11 that it still allows customers to optimize payroll services to comply with city laws, stating in an email “that there have been no technology issues that would have an impact. impact on customers accumulating or displaying accumulated hours on employee timesheets.
The Minneapolis Sick and Safety Time Ordinance requires employees who work in Minneapolis to accumulate at least one hour of sick and safety leave for every 30 hours worked. None of the pay stubs, dating back several months, sent to KARE 11 show any accumulated sick hours.
Regardless of the blame, Lighthouse said the issue is resolved and is working to assign retroactive hours to current employees, promising to pay former employees who have lost sick leave.
But how could an international company, with more than a hundred Minneapolis employees at a time, go several months without letting employees accumulate sick leave?
Emails obtained by KARE 11 show that the issue was originally raised by Quang-Minh Tran, former deputy director of operations for the Minneapolis Van Gogh exhibit, on November 14.
âTo my knowledge, we are currently not in compliance with this order and this needs to be dealt with immediately, the most important step being the retroactive issuance of Sick &
Safety time that would have been accumulated for all employees based on their hours worked, and that this information must be visible on pay stubs, in accordance with the Salary Theft Prevention Ordinance, âwrote Minh in his email to senior management. “Please ensure this is implemented as soon as possible at the company level and in Paylocity, unless the company wishes to address the workforce violations / salary theft reported to the Department of Minnesota Labor and Industry. “
Correspondence with Lighthouse Immersive
Tran said he reported it to HR, but no public action was taken until he left on December 17, 2021.
“It’s incredibly disappointing, the company itself is expected to have done their due diligence to prevent this from getting to this point to begin withâ¦ they didn’t do that due diligence. “said Tran.
Tran has supervised dozens of employees during his months at Lighthouse Immersive, estimating that around 700 Sick & Safe hours were not tracked by Lighthouse Immersive or its payroll software.
Tran said employees at the lowest hourly rate at the Van Gogh Exhibition were paid $ 16 an hour. This meant that at least $ 11,200 in sick leave was not available to employees, he said.
“Whenever we were sick they would just tell us to stay home, there was never a paid sick leave option, it just was never on the table,” said Alyssa Castillo, part-time employee at the Minneapolis Van Gogh exhibit.
A spokesperson for Lighthouse told KARE 11 he was first notified of the issue around mid-November and alerted Paylocity.
â(Paylocity) is updating their system because they didn’t have the (system) right to put those numbers on pay slips,â the spokesperson said over the phone. “They are rectifying the situation, and of course if someone deserves a salary that they did not receive, of course, they will receive that salary.”
What are the issues that have blocked employees from their sick pay?
In its email to Minneapolis employees on December 31, Lighthouse said it was a failure on Paylocity.
“In this case, they did not include the Minneapolis Safe & Sick Time Ordinanceâ¦ and we did not recheck their work,” the statement said.
Paylocity told KARE 11 that there has never been a case where it cannot fill out a city wage ordinance and implement it in its software.
âOur platform allows companies to put in place accumulation plans (including the Minneapolis Sick & Safe policy) to meet their local and state regulations,â the company said in an emailed statement.
Paylocity went on to say that it has been offering Minneapolis customers the opportunity to accumulate Sick & Safe time since July 31, 2017, but customers have to request it themselves because “many customers have PTO / Sick policies. more generous than local mandates “.
Lighthouse Immersive said it was a bug in Paylocity’s software that did not allow sick hours to be displayed.
âThey fixed the bug in their system so that these hours were accumulated and visible to everyone,â said the spokesperson for Lighthouse Immersive.
Lighthouse did not elaborate on the specific issue which took several weeks to resolve.
“I can’t really answer that it’s just that (Paylocity) rectified the situation,” said the Lighthouse spokesperson.
Paylocity also told KARE 11 that he cannot discuss the specific communications he has with Lighthouse.
“It’s definitely a question of transparency”, … how the employees will get their hours back
Part-time Castillo told KARE 11 Safe & Sick time in Minneapolis was not known to her or her colleagues until Tran noticed the city law.
When speaking to Lighthouse, Castillo said she was told this was an issue they were working on, but said nothing had changed until Minh submitted the problem at Reddit.
“I think not only was the problem dragged out much later than it should have been, but I think the problem was not resolved until it was brought to the attention of the public, âCastillo said.
Tran said he brought the issue to Reddit because the situation was not rectified.
âUltimately my only hope in doing this is to pressure the company to do the right thing and adhere to the local ordinance and simply to provide the sickness and safety time that its workers rightly deserve, âTran told KARE 11. This interview took place. ahead of Lighthouse’s company-wide email on December 31.
After a few months, it looks like Tran is getting his wish fulfilled.
Katie Rein, a former manager who left the company in early January, said stress on employees would have been avoided if more had been communicated.
âIt’s definitely about transparency, they weren’t transparent about this processâ¦ people were asking,â Rein said.
Leanne Fuith, associate professor at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, told KARE 11 that city ordinances are often missed by international businesses.
âI would say it’s not surprising forâ¦ an out-of-state employer that it might not be something they know about,â Fuith said, âThey definitely need familiarize yourself with it. “
“Generally speaking, employers should be concerned with compensating wages that have not been adequately compensated as well as any penalties that may be mandated by the state for a particular violation,” Fuith said when asked him about the penalties that accompany the avoidance of Sick & Safe Weather in Minneapolis.
The Lighthouse Immersive communication sent to employees on December 31 gives current employees two options: collect payment on the previous sick leave they have accumulated or have their Sick & Safe time bank filled with the retroactive hours they have. could win.
They apologized for not implementing Sick & Safe earlier and said they would start contacting former employees about retroactive sick pay.
âIt was and still is our intention to follow the rules of every city and state in which we operate,â Corey Ross, president of Lighthouse Immersive, said in the staff email.
Now past and current employees are waiting for retroactive hours and paying to come by Friday, January 7.
Rein said it couldn’t happen sooner, with some recent COVID exposures reported to him there before his resignation in early January.
âThis sick time is something that they can all use right nowâ¦ Sickness benefits are such a huge problem,â Rein said.
WATCH: Mpls. and the Saint Paul Sick Leave Ordinances come into effect July 1.