Mary Fields had $10 in her checking account last week. Today she walked out of her bank with $5,400 in cash.
"I am smiling," Fields said. "I don't feel broke now. This is a payday of a lifetime for me. It took a lot of hard work and a long time to get it, but it's definitely well worth it."
After our Community Watchdog investigation began, Mayuri Patel, the then owner of Bad Bob's BBQ/Kemosabee's Inc., promised she would get money to Fields and everyone else who is owed back wages. The U.S. Department of Labor recently said there are 22 people in all owed a combined $15,000 for "minimum wage violations."
Fields got her check last week. She deposited it and it has since cleared.
Brandy Fagan also worked for the restaurant. She received her check this week. The government told her Bad Bob's BBQ owed her $503. Patel sent the money overnight from her personal account. Now, Fagan is just waiting for the check to clear.
"We want to make sure everything is safe and clear," Fagan said. "It's a good time of year for it to come. I am unemployed so it's a very good time. $500 is like $5,000 to me. I have two kids, so definitely, this is going to help. I am very thankful to Mayuri too for stepping up to the plate, regardless who owes, she took the responsibility of saying, 'Hey, I'm going to do this to make it right."
Patel said if the business itself wouldn't pay up, she would. So far, she's lived up to that promise, a pleasant surprise for Fields. For her, things are looking up. After spending months unemployed, she prepares to start a new job Saturday night and now she has $5,400 to her name. That money is now in a secure location.
"It just feels good to know that my grandkids are going to have a decent Christmas," Fields said.
As for the 20 remaining employees who are still owed money, the former owner says she still intends to pay. Patel says it may take some time, but she will get them their money, even if it means selling her jewelry.
"I will keep doing what I believe is right," Patel said.
Patel's soon-to-be ex-husband, Hardev, previously told us he was the restaurant's president and CEO. He said he wasn't going to pay the employees unless the government showed him exactly what the business supposedly did wrong. He argued employees manipulated the time clock.