A U.S. Department of Labor investigation from 2014-2016 of payroll and timekeeping errors at Goodwill Industries of the Coastal Empire has been closed with no fines or penalties assessed.
The investigation began following a complaint filed with DOL related to federal custodial service contracts.
Goodwill Industries provides janitorial work at several federal sites, including Fort Stewart, Hunter Army/Air Force base, federal buildings in Savannah, and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Brunswick.
Cynthia Barnes, vice president of community engagement with Goodwill, said Goodwill has cooperated with the DOL from day one.
“We met, and the Department of Labor agreed for us to investigate,” Barnes said. “We hired a third party financial analyst to ensure complete accuracy and transparency.”
Barnes said all the errors were human mistakes that were corrected and paid out to employees as they were found.
“Honest mistakes in our timekeeping and human resource field practices were made in the administration of our federal services contracts,” Barnes said. “When the errors were identified we took action to change our procedures and swiftly paid disputed earnings. Additionally, we have had significant changes in leadership that we feel confident are capable of ensuring compliance to all policies and procedures moving forward.”
Barnes stressed the errors did not involve Goodwill stores.
“This was only on the federal contracts,” Barnes said.
“Supervisors were correcting time cards with the best intentions, but without supporting documentation,” Barnes said.
The vacation policy error stemmed from using the “use it or lose it,” policy of the main Goodwill operations, instead of paying out unused time as required for the federal contracts, Barnes said.
Incorrect wage amounts were paid to some federal contract service employees while Goodwill was waiting for wage changes provided by the government at contract renewal.
All procedures have been corrected, including requiring written confirmation from employees before time card corrections are made, Barnes said.
“All employees were paid in full any money owed to them,” Barnes said. “We’ve also held extensive training.”
Goodwill paid a total of $114,936.45, averaging less than $9 per paycheck over a three-year period.
Barnes said 75 percent of the service employees have disabilities, a group Goodwill works hard to help.
“We are committed to helping the disabled and to doing what is in their best interest,” Barnes said.