Georgetown Management System fails to pay student workers

October 10, 2013

Georgetown Management System has systematically failed to pay weeks’ worth of overdue wages for some of its student workers. The late wages for Student Housing and Activity Facilities workers was due to human error, since dozens of workers were not entered into GMS for weeks.

GMS is the human personnel database that the University uses to keep track of its workers’ information and distribute wages. Several Georgetown departments that hire students have failed to pay their workers for hours of work. In some cases, the overdue wages go back for months.

A department that has taken a particularly long time to pay back many of its new workers is Student Housing and Activity Facilities. One new Residence Hall Office worker, who has asked to remain anonymous for fear of losing her job, has worked 10 hours per week since the start of the academic year and Student Housing has still not paid her.

As this worker understands the situation, GMS has also failed to pay many of her peers. “There’s been a lot of pressure on [GMS] from the [RHO] managers,” she said in an interview. “I know some people who were hired this year and got in [to the system] immediately, but then there was this backup.”

“I heard [the problem] was sourced from one person, but I don’t know who that person was,” she said. “She was in charge of doing it and she just wasn’t on top of it.”

Vice President for Student Housing and Activity Facilities Jonalyn Ware Greene explained the source of the payment delay. “There’s been some delay in processing, primarily due to human error,” she said. “There’s been a delay in processing some of the newer students who were hired.”

Ware Greene is not in charge of GMS itself. Instead, she is the human resources contact for Student Housing and Activity Facilities employees in dealing with GMS.

RHO student employees ordinarily submit electronic timesheets, which are then approved by their managers. These approved timesheets then go on to the timekeeper for their department, who enters the work hours into the GMS system. At this point, the department can pay the employee.

Ware Greene said that sometimes departments cannot pay employees because the employees have not handed in all of their information. In many cases this school year, however, departments could not pay employees because they did not enter employees into the GMS system in the first place.

“We have a large volume [of new hires] that happens at this time of the year,” Ware Greene said. “There are multiple screens and multiple things that have to be entered, making sure that you have every single thing from people. It is a long process for us to enter people. You can’t just put a person’s name in and they’re in the system.”

Ware Greene explained that during the past week, the department entered all new hires into the system. She expects Student Housing will repay all of the overdue wages by the end of the next pay cycle.

GMS will be updated next week to offer a simpler way for logging workers’ hours. Currently, employees who work in multiple departments can have their hours logged by only one department. The new system will fix this annoyance, but it is not clear if the new system will solve GMS’s problem of entering new hires’ information so they can be paid more quickly.

When asked how unpaid students in her department are supposed to seek out their overdue wages, Ware Greene said they should go to her. “The students who are being processed through our office should feel free to come to my office to speak to me about issues if they are concerned with talking to their manager,” she said.

Some student workers, however, have had a difficult time dealing with Ware Greene’s office when submitting claims for overdue wages. One student worker, who also asked to remain anonymous, worked in an RHO for over 200 hours at the start of last summer before Student Housing paid him. The overdue wages amounted to over $1,500.

At first, Student Housing told this worker that sometimes it does not pay new hires for short periods of time. When he was still unpaid, this worker took action.

“I sent an email to Ms. Ware Green to inquire about the delay in setting me up in GMS,” he wrote in an email to the Voice. “Days later, in the absence of any response, I sensed that no action was being taken, so I attempted to meet Ms. Ware Green in person. As it turns out, that is not an easy task. I went into the office multiple times at differing hours of the day, but invariably Ms. Ware Green was not in or was busy.”

“At this stage, I attempted to raise the issue with Ms. Ware Green’s superiors, hoping that some internal pressures would expedite things,” he wrote. “Time and again I was told that only Jonalyn [Ware Greene] could make the inputs into GMS so that I could be issued a check, that she was aware of the issue, that they were working on it. … There is a cultural malaise within the Housing Department in which these ‘professional’ staff are not responsive to their student employees because there is no accountability.”

This student worker and many others have felt uncomfortable speaking with the Voice for fear of being fired or not rehired for the next employment period. “Our boss sent out an email with reference to the upcoming Voice article and reminded us that, per our employment contract, talking to the press is grounds for dismissal,” this worker wrote.

Executive Director of Residential Living Patrick Killilee assured the Voice that this is not the department’s policy when dealing with its student employees.

“If someone is talking about their own personal experience and how the system has impacted them, we would not be concerned about that,” Killilee said. “An offense of not [re]hiring [an employee] would be more along the lines of a breach of confidentiality. And that’s the issue for managers, because the managers have more issues of confidentiality.”

Killilee recognized the lack of clarity the department’s employees face on what is acceptable to tell the press.

“What we need to do is to help our staff understand that working for the Office of Residential Living does not take away your right to share your experiences, but what we do ask you is not to speak on behalf of the department,” Killilee said.

What is clear, however, is that these overdue wages have hurt student employees.

“I got the job with housing over the summer exactly because I needed the wages to cover my living expenses,” one of the student employees wrote. “All my budgeting was done according to the safe assumption that I would be paid on time.”


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