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Five Years And Waiting For Her Final Paycheck, And Even A State Ruling In Her Favor Hasn't Helped; 'It Makes Me Feel Like It's A Joke'

by Paige Tortorelli and Ryan Baker

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Shundell Vance never received her last paycheck for her work at Salon Bliss, and even after she won a wage claim, the Illinois Department of Labor has not been able to enforce their decision for five years.

The CBS 2 Morning Insiders looked into what's taking so long.

Vance just wants the money her former employer still owes her. She's waited since 2014 for her last paycheck.

Vance now owns her own salon in Antioch, but her former employer, Salon Bliss owner Lisa Ruley, still hasn't paid her for the work she did as a hairstylist five years ago.

"Who do you think you are not paying someone for the work that they have done? That's not right," Vance said.

The Illinois Department of Labor granted Vance's wage claim, ordering Ruley to pay her $307.04 in back pay.

Because she lost, Ruley also must pay a $250 administrative fee to the state, but she hasn't paid a dime, despite an order to issue a check within 15 days of its ruling in May 2014.

"I can't believe this," Vance said. "You have people out there not paying their employees, and no one cares."

When CBS 2 asked Ruley about the unpaid wages, she wasn't happy. Her staff threatened to call the police if we called again.

The Illinois Department of Labor initially pointed the finger at the Illinois Attorney General's office for not enforcing the wage claim ruling.

However, the Attorney General's office said the Department of Labor never sent them the proper paperwork.

"It makes me feel like it's a joke. It makes me feel like everything I did was for nothing," Vance said.

The Department of Labor's website clearly shows employers who ignore wage claim rulings face a penalty of 1% per day.

It's been approximately 2,000 days since Vance won her $307 claim against Ruley, so penalties alone now add up to more than $6,100.

For Vance, however, it's not about the money. She just wants the Department of Labor to do its job.

"Solely, it's the principle," she said. "This is a service to the people. They're there for a reason, we're paying them, and they need to do the job, and no one's doing the job."

The Department of Labor and Attorney General said they're working to help Vance get the money she's owed.

CBS 2 wanted to know how many other cases like this are out there, and how many other times the state didn't collect the $250 fee it's owed. The Department of Labor couldn't answer, but did say it has recovered more than $3.3 million in unpaid wages in the last year.

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