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Monday, February 15, 2010

Ex-Employees Come Forward Against MI Towing Co

Here's the story from Newschannel 3 in Kalamazoo, MI:

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) – New accusations continue to emerge against a local towing company. Students say T&J Towing is breaking the law and ripping them off. Now, the company's former employees are coming forward and saying, yes, the company is. On Thursday night, the owner of T&J Towing sat down and talked exclusively to Newschannel 3, taking on the accusations. He says everything he does is legal, and now the claims that he's not towing the line are sparking legal action. Since Newschannel 3's story aired on Thursday evening, Arboretum Apartments have eliminated T&J Towing's services, something T&J's owner feels is a direct result of publicity created by the facebook page created by Justin Kurtz. For that reason, T&J and its attorney says they are suing Kurtz for slander / defamation of character and loss of income. Newschannel 3 has not been able to get in touch with Kurtz, but many more people have come forward backing his claims. In addition to four facebook pages with nearly 2,000 members who are anti-T&J, former employees are coming forward to speak against the company. “How often were you told to do things you felt were wrong?” Newschannel 3 asked one T&J employee who wishes to remain anonymous. “About 80 percent of the time,” said the employee. On Friday, Newschannel 3 spoke with two former employees of T&J, both of whom did not want to be identified, saying they fear their former boss, Joe Bird. “Because he's vengeful,” said one employee. “If he finds out who we are he'll most likely have us messed with.” That employee says that one of the most common and potentially damaging claims against T&J to be found in the facebook postings, regarding stealing or moving parking permits, is true. “They have what is called a reach across bar and a wedge, you stick it in the door and you just maneuver the bar in and you knock whatever it is off the window and the car's yours,” said the employee. “I've seen a couple drivers do it.” The employee also says the boss knew about the practice. “He'd laugh about it and say do it as much as possible,” said the employee. Another former employee says part of the reason for cutting corners and even breaking laws was a strict quota. “Generally Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays it was fifteen cars a night,” said that employee. The other ex-employee Newschannel 3 spoke with said that if the quota wasn't met, payday was delayed or worse. That employee said he had about $200 a week held back from his paychecks. The former employees even claim that the pay was illegal and under the table. “He was gypping me on pay because all of his under the table checks were handwritten,' said the former employee. “Banks wouldn't even cash them cause every time they would they'd bounce.” The claims are shocking, but there is one problem with all of them. “Is there any proof you actually have?” asked Newschannel 3. “No, no proof,” said the former employee. Newschannel 3 spoke again with T&J's owner Joe Bird on Friday night, and even though he doesn't know who the men we spoke with are, he claims they're just disgruntled employees badmouthing his business. Bird also says that threats of violence have begun appearing on the facebook pages that stand against his business. Bird says he now fears for his family's well being. Newschannel 3 will continue to dig into this story.

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