AG Shapiro Petitions to Defend the Rights of Ellwood City Hospital Workers

December 23, 2019 | Topic: Rights

NEW CASTLE – Attorney General Josh Shapiro today filed a petition in Lawrence County to compel the owners of Ellwood City Medical Center to pay wages, unemployment taxes, and pension contributions due to approximately 150 hospital workers who have not been paid. The petition asks the court to hold the owners accountable for their promises and to obey the law by paying their employees and keeping the hospital open to provide crucial emergency medical services.

Americore Health LLC, Americore Health Solutions LLC, and Grant White agreed in 2017 to buy the 100-year-old non-profit hospital and, according to today’s petition, promised the Attorney General and Lawrence County Court they would operate the hospital – including a 24/7 emergency department – for at least 10 years, obey all federal and state laws and fully fund employee pensions.

Despite these assurances, the Ellwood City Medical Center failed to pay workers’ wages and, after two partial payments, stopped paying workers completely. ECMC also announced layoffs without employee notice. As of today, at least 152 employees have been laid off and the majority have not been paid their full wages.

“These workers deserve to be paid, and we will fight to make sure every hospital worker gets what they’re owed,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “We’re standing up for workers and for the entire community that relies on this hospital for life-saving care.”

Workers who sought unemployment compensation were initially denied this safety net because the owners of ECMC failed to submit accurate, required reports and pay more than $100,000 in required taxes. The hospital also failed to make annual pension contributions and to meet licensing requirements for emergency room equipment. As a result, the Pennsylvania Department of Health closed the emergency room in November.

According to news reports, Americore and White have engaged in similar activity around the country, acquiring community hospitals, running them into the ground, and leaving taxpayers to foot the bill.  Attorney General Shapiro said he is seeking restitution for all affected workers and is asking the court to:

  • Order Americore and White to pay all outstanding wages and unemployment compensation taxes,
  • Order Americore and White to bring ECMC into compliance with emergency room licensure requirements, including operational equipment, and to continue to operate ECMC, and
  • Divest Americore and White of all legal and equitable ownership rights in ECMC should they fail to bring the hospital into licensure requirements and appoint a trustee or receiver to operate ECMC.

The Office of Attorney General has been working with other state and local officials in this matter, including Ellwood City Mayor Anthony Court.

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