DETROIT (WJBK) - Employees at two Detroit area Firehouse Sub shops are suddenly in the lurch and without a paycheck after the owner of the franchises suddenly closes one location and can't pay employees at another.
Deeaira Whitfield used to work at the Firehouse Subs in Berkley. She said the franchise was suddenly shut down and the owner hasn't paid his staff, including her, since the sudden closure.
"He hasn't said anything and even when he have checks, the checks bounce," Whitfield said.
She says the owner, David Wilson, has done this before at other franchise locations.
"I was assistant manager in Rochester Hills and he closed that one on February 17, 2017, he came in and talked to me and said this is gonna be our last day open, if anyone who wants to go to Berkley they can go to Berkley, but I'm shutting this store down," she said.
Whitfield says she had no idea she would find herself in the same situation 10 months later at the Berkley location.
She's not alone. Robin Bryant says her son also worked at the Berkley location and she's concerned after a number of his checks bounced
"There's a warrant out for my son's arrest according to the store where he was cashing checks because the checks bounced. My son is a minor, he's only 17-years old, he doesn't know nothing about bounching checks," Bryant said.
Workers at the Berkley store say they're not the only employees having issues with the franchise owner. At the Southfield location, workers they shut it down because they're not getting paid either.
"I feel bad for customers who come in because I want to serve them, I want to see them smile, I want to see them be happy. But I'm not getting paid and I consider my time my wealth and I'm wasting my time here if I'm not getting my check," Maximilian Thomas said.
Fox 2 reached out to the franchise owner for answers but calls have not been returned. Current and former employees like Whitfield say they're leaving messages and not hearing back either
"David, we need for you to come in here and tell us what's going on. Pay these people right and get these checks cleared," Bryant said.
WEB UPDATE (9:30 p.m.): Firehouse Subs statement - "As a franchisor, it is Firehouse Subs' responsibility to protect the brand and support our franchisees who are small business owners. Currently, our locations in Berkley and Southfield are closed as the franchisee is dealing with economic issues. Firehouse Subs is exploring all opportunities to bring in another franchisee who can take over operating these restaurants and continue serving guests in these communities."