In a lawsuit generating national headlines, a group of Filipino workers say that they were recruited by a Los Angeles bakery to work for fair pay from their home country, but have since been denied minimum wages and overtime.
According to the Los Angeles Times, when the first set of workers began to arrive in California in 2012, they were brought in through a visa program for foreign investors and began working at the L’Amande French Bakery in Beverly Hills and Torrance. Before arriving, they claim that they were told that they would double or even quadruple their pay from the Philippines. However, they were quickly asked to work 17-hour days for less than minimum wage and without overtime pay, according to their lawsuit.
Additionally, the workers claim that they were asked to do construction projects at a Long Beach apartment complex owned by bakery owners Ana and Goncal Moitinho de Almeida, in addition to doing work on the couple’s home.
“For months, workers said, they slept on the floor in the home’s laundry room and were paid just over $2 an hour,” the Times reported. As of last week, 11 workers were involved in the lawsuit. In addition to the labor allegations, the lawsuit accuses the Almeidas of labor violations, human trafficking and retaliation.
The Almeidas did not respond to a request for comment from the Times. The Filipino workers came to the U.S. on E-2 visas that allow them to “work for a foreign national who has invested a substantial amount of money in a U.S.-based business,” the Times reported.
When workers complained about labor conditions, they claim that they were told by the Almeidas that they each owed $11,000 for the cost of their visas and airfare. They also claim that they were told they would be deported if they spoke to state officials.
Talking to an Attorney About a Wage Claim
These allegations are truly disturbing. Keep in mind, it is illegal for an employer to dock your wages below federal and state minimum wage guidelines by working you off the clock. Wage laws apply to everyone, regardless of whether or not a worker is here on a visa or sponsorship. California wage and overtime laws exist to ensure that all employees are given compensation for the work they perform.
If you have experienced what could be an unfair or illegal wage and overtime claim, it may be in your best interest to speak to an attorney. You could be entitled to back wages and damages.
Keep following our blog for California employment law news. To read the complaint filed by the workers, you can click on the source link below.
Kesluk, Silverstein & Jacob– Los Angeles employment attorneys