BAYONNE, N.J. — When Rodney Robinson saw an ad on Facebook looking for car service drivers in September 2020, the retired sanitation worker said the $19 an hour sounded like a good gig.
“This company was serving families that needed a ride for their children, especially during the pandemic,” Robinson told PIX11 News in late January. “They were delivering food and things of that nature, too.”
Robinson signed on with Ride Along, which said it provided services for minor league soccer teams and hospitals, among other groups.
Alissa Roost, a college professor in Manhattan, used the service to get her 3-year-old son to a downtown day care. She liked having Rodney as the same driver every day.
But she said the company’s co-founder, Norbert Sygdziak, kept changing the weekly rate.
“Originally, it was $170,” Roost said. “After three weeks, he raised the price to $350 a week and then he dropped it down to $270 a week.”
Robinson said he started working in early Sept. 2020 but didn’t see his first paycheck until Oct. 12. He received more than $1,400 with an ADP stub that listed deductions. He expected to get paid every two weeks.
When he didn’t receive a paycheck by October 26th, he was frustrated. Robinson said he started texting the owner, “Norbert, ‘why aren’t you texting me or communicating with me.'”
The owner texted back, “Rodney, I’m unfortunately one man running 185 things.”
Robinson received a direct deposit into his account for more than $1,100 on Oct. 29, 2020, but he said his salary then dried up.
“I didn’t receive a check in November. I didn’t receive a check in December,” Robinson said.
He stopped working before Jan. 1.
Another former driver, Brian Comeau, said he had recovered from a stroke and wanted a job, when he signed on with Ride Along in the summer of 2020.
“I got off disability, because I wanted to work, and then he started not paying me,” Comeau said.
PIX11 News learned the company was based out of a townhouse in Bayonne, New Jersey.
When we went there and rang the intercom, a woman’s voice told us, “We work out of our home right now.”
Norbert Sygdziak called us back quickly after we left a message on his cell phone
We later interviewed him on the phone, while we were meeting with former driver Brian Comeau in Brooklyn.
“We are a registered company,”Sygdziak said. “We have protocols in place for people who leave the company to submit their time.”
Comeau claimed he was owed more than $6,000 in salary, but Ride Along wrote him an e-mail telling Comeau that wasn’t accurate.
“We have looked into this matter and have noticed your calculation is incorrect,” the e-mail said. “Your final paycheck will be in the amount of $3,574.32.”
The e-mail concluded, “Finally, pursuant to your request, attached is a letter indicating your termination from the company in Nov. 2020.”