Aspen Heights resolving unpaid worker issues

The student housing complex is still scheduled to open on time.
An independent contractor R-Energy LLC, claimed its workers were not being compensated by Aspen Heights. The luxury complex is working with R-Energy to resolve the issue. Maneater File Photo

There is still progress to be made for unpaid employees working on the Aspen Heights construction site in Columbia.

R-Energy LLC, a contractor independent of Aspen Heights, said its workers were not receiving promised compensation in January. According to a news release from Jan. 22, Aspen Heights is investigating the claim.

Through bidding processes, R-Energy won a contract for framing initiatives at the Aspen Heights site in Columbia, Aspen Heights spokesman Stuart Watkins said.

R-Energy LLC has been a Better Business Bureau Accredited business since Jan. 31, 2013. On a scale of A+ to F, R Energy has an A rating, based on 16 different factors. R-Energy has had no complaints filed with the BBB, according to the BBB’s website.

To meet the demands of labor requirements, R-Energy then used a staffing agency, Watkins said.

“It is very common for contractors and subcontractors affiliated with a site to utilize third-party staffing agencies,” Watkins said. “This allows the contractors to meet the demands of labor requirements to complete the project.”

A staffing agency by the name of Black Sparta began soliciting workers for R-Energy, offering a variety of incentives, Watkins said.

"When workers arrived in Columbia they were not compensated for their travel expenses, food and housing,” Watkins said. “The construction workers began to realize that the staffing inquiry was a hoax by the agency Black Sparta, and many workers became stranded.”

Aspen Heights “immediately” began looking for ways to help the stranded workers, Watkins said.

“This particular issue is directly between a staffing agency, construction subcontractor and its employees; however we are looking into ways to help the individuals that are stranded in Columbia,” the release stated.

Stranded individuals were given transportation back to their homes in Atlanta, Ga., by a source associated with the subcontractor or staffing agency, a Jan. 23 news release stated.

Last week, Aspen Heights terminated the contract with R-Energy due to performance related issues, Watkins said.

“Upon terminating the contract, Aspen Heights immediately requested information from R-Energy LLC regarding the contractual obligations it has with its affiliates,” Watkins said. “This was done so that we would cut the middle man out of the payment process and directly address the monetary obligations that R-Energy LLC has with its affiliates.”

Aspen Heights has begun talks with the subcontractors.

The construction is still ahead of schedule by as much as two months, according to the Aspen Heights Marketing Office in Columbia.

“Despite all of the construction issues with R-Energy LLC, the Aspen Heights site is currently ahead of schedule,” Watkins said.

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