The Investigators

May 9, 2013 6:31 PM by Tom McNamara

Former workers say company still owes back pay

How would you feel if you showed-up for work one day, and found out your boss was in prison, and you weren't going to be paid for the work you did for him?

That's what happened to former workers at a Tucson tech company.

The company's founder was sent to prison earlier this year. Now, the employees say they're out thousands of dollars in wages. So, they came to the News 4 Tucson Investigators for help.

"I personally lost my apartment. I lost my car. so, I had to start all over. I know we've all struggled with it."

Brittanie Griggs found out the hard way that her job, her livelihood wasn't bulletproof. Even though she, and two former colleagues worked for a company made famous for its bulletproof vests.

The women worked for Bourque Industries, maker of protective vests and helmets for police and the military. but nothing could protect them from their boss's downfall, and the struggles that cost the company.

It was just a few years ago that company founder John Bourque demonstrated his revolutionary products for our cameras..

But now, the former CEO sits in the Arizona State Prison in Buckeye, serving four and a half years for D-U-I.

Since his arrest, the company has been restructured, and has a new interim CEO

These three women, and others, who used to work for Bourque, say the company still owes them thousands of dollars in back pay.

"I would call and ask if funds are available, is anything coming? I was always told: we're trying, we're doing our best. after awhile, I just kind of gave up."

Going without pay has been a huge struggle for Rachel McMillan and the others. They say they feel betrayed in several ways.

"He recruited all of us personally. So, we were all hand-picked for the positions we were given. So, yeah, I'm a little angry with him. he let us down."

"I'm angry, and hurt, because he's been a friend for so long. I mean, that's how I met him - a friendship, over ten years ago. so, I'm pretty disappointed about that." adds Shanna Godoy

The women understand that people hearing their story may ask - why keep working without pay?

"We believed in him. We believed in the product. We still do. and, it's just very unfortunate that he brought his friends. basically he called us his family. into this and then treated us this way."

We visited the Bourque facility at mid-afternoon to talk with the company earlier this week, but found no one there.
But later that afternoon, we reached a company executive by phone. who told us they're working to raise money, and keep the company going. and says they are making progress with that effort. And if successful, he says perhaps everyone owed money by the company can be paid.

And that includes some of the top executives - also owed cash. But as of now, more questions than answers for our three former employees as to whether they'll get paid.

The News 4 Tucson Investigators also uncovered a 40-thousand dollar judgment against the company last month.

Two brothers who worked for Bourque Industries sued over wages owed. But again, they may or may not ever see that money.

We'll continue to follow developments.

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