Windermere Town Council candidate Mike Hargreaves sued for nonpayment, underpayment of hourly wages
Mike Hargreaves, Windermere resident and candidate for town council, and his company, PCI Security Inc., were sued by two former employees, seeking to recoup unpaid wages and underpayment of wages, according to court documents filed with the Orange County Clerk of Courts.
In 2016, Javaris Speight was working as a security guard, making $10.25 an hour for PCI Security Inc. (also known as Community Patrol, according to court documents). He was let go Jan. 6, 2017; six months later, in July, he filed a lawsuit against Hargreaves and PCI Security Inc. According to the lawsuit, Speight was either not paid or grossly underpaid for the last three weeks of his employment.
In his claim, Speight said that he did not receive a paycheck for the 89 hours he worked during the pay period Dec. 15-30, 2016.
While Speight did receive a paycheck for the following pay period, Jan. 1-15, 2017, his hourly wage had dropped to $7.25 per hour, or $3 lower than his agreed-on wage. Florida’s minimum wage at the time was $8.10 (it's now $8.65). Paying below the state minimum wage is a violation, and employees are entitled to collect the full amount of what they are owed in addition to their wages as liquidated damages.
Several calls and emails to Hargreaves, seeking comment were not returned.
In March 2018, Hargreaves was sued by another former employee for the very same thing.
Emily Hahnel worked as a communications specialist for $10 an hour at PCI Security Inc. from August 2017 to October 2017. Her suit also sought unpaid wages and underpayment of wages. According to court documents, during the time she worked for PCI Security Inc., she received a total of four paychecks. The first two, the document said, were correct.
However, her third paycheck dropped her pay rate to $8.10 per hour (the Florida minimum wage at the time), from $10 an hour. She was paid for only 38.5 hours worked, not the 55 that she actually clocked. She was shorted $238.15 for the paycheck, the lawsuit said. While her fourth paycheck paid her for the correct number of hours worked, the rate was still $8.10 per hour, not the $10 per hour she was promised, the lawsuit said.
Hahnel attempted to remedy the situation through several phone calls and emails to PCI Security Inc. When she was unsuccessful, she hired an attorney to send a demand letter. When that failed to secure her lost $238.15, she sued Hargreaves in the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court.
On August 28, 2017, Hargreaves sent Hahnel a low-ball settlement agreement, using a boilerplate document, filled with wording that didn't apply to Hahnel's lawsuit, like "The terms of this Agreement are the product of negotiations between the parties..." Hahnel wrote in all caps in the margin: "THIS IS NOT TRUE. THERE WERE NEVER NEGOTIATIONS. THIS NEVER HAPPENED.
Hahnel marked up the agreement, leaving comments in the margins like, REALLY? WHAT? and THIS DOESN'T EVEN AGREE WITH WHAT YOU STATED IN YOUR COVER SHEET.
Hargreaves agreement offered $250, less "all applicable withholdings." In the margin, Hahnel wrote, "YOU OWE ALL COURT COSTS, SERVICE FEES, INTEREST AND WHATEVER ELESE THE JUDGE STIPULATES" and "HOW CAN HAHNEL AGREE TO RECEIPT OF WAGES WHEN THERE IS NO DISBURSEMENT OF SAME?"
Hahnel responded 10 days later on September 7, 2017, that she had "NO INTENTION of executing this document at any time."
Hahnel voided every page of the four-page settlement agreement and sent it back to Hargreaves and sent a copy to the Clerk of Court.
Finally, in October of 2018, she was awarded back wages, plus $330 in court costs. A total of $625.23.