APRIL 7, 2018

Filipina Nanny Wins $827,506 in Wage Trial

The Trump administration has just been hit with yet another immigration policy-related lawsuit.

A live-in Filipina domestic employee has won a wage claim of $827,506 against her former employers who had her care for two of their disabled children in addition to doing housework, errands, and cooking, for what amounted to way less than minimum wage.

The judgment announced last February appears to be among the highest verdicts to a domestic worker on a pure wage claim.

“The court’s judgment is a victory for Ms. Alzate, especially in the face of a vigorous opposition that did not concede any dime of wages that was owed to her,” said a release from the law firm that represented the Filipina. “It was a testament to the courage of this Filipina to have pursued her claims all the way up to trial.”

Fil-Am employment lawyer Attorney Joe Sayas represented  Linda Alzate (not her real name)  and argued that she should be paid for the entire time she was on-call to care for the disabled children at which the court agreed.

Just as in previous cases he’s handled for employees in similar situations, Alzate was paid a flat monthly rate regardless of how long she was made available to work which went from 18 to 24 hours per day.

Under the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights made effective in 2014, domestic workers with hours similar to Alzate who are caring for children or seniors are entitled to overtime pay being their regular hourly rate multiplied by one and a half, or “time and a half.”

24/7 care, two children with disabilities

Alzate began working in the  home of Drs. Peter Sim and Lorraine Diego — located in the Hancock Park neighborhood of Los Angeles — in 2002 where she initially received a flat monthly salary of only $1,000 to care for the couple’s three to four-month child despite being on call for 24 hours, seven days a week. That computes to less than approximately $2.00 an hour.

At 18 months, the child was diagnosed with severe autism, adding to the workload and responsibilities.  In 2005, another child was born with autism yet the couple still failed to give Alzate her proper wages.

In addition to caring for the children, Alzate was made responsible for other tasks including laundry, running errands, house cleaning, and cooking for the family.

Alzate’s last salary in 2014 was $3,000 per month, despite a correctly calculated salary for her 24/7 live-in wage computing upwards of $6,000.  Her claims cover the period worked from April 2011 to April 2014 with a significant part of the wage based on regular hourly rates.

Alzate said her daily schedule would consist of waking up at 6 a.m. at the latest to cook for the family and prepare the kids for school.  The rest of the day, she would spend cleaning the house, running errands, and cooking for the whole family.  Evenings consisted of assisting the children’s much-needed therapy sessions, cooking dinner, and preparing the children for sleep during which she would continue to be on-call.

The older child with severe autism often would wake up every two or three hours, said Alzate.  The children’s parents offered no help.

U.S. law defines a night’s rest as a minimum of five hours for employees on duty for 24 hours or more which Alzate rarely got.

“Live-in employees should still be paid for each and every hour worked,” said Sayas in an email to the Asian Journal.  “This means that even if the employee is not engaged in productive work, but is required by the employer to stay in the workplace (due perhaps to an all-day or all night 24/7 supervision of an elderly or child they are taking care of), they should still be paid as the law sees that as work performed.”

Alzate was also discouraged from taking days off.  She said that getting even just one day off required her to get permission three to four months in advance.

In one instance she did manage to get four days off for her birthday which falls on Thanksgiving, Alzate said Sim got angry.

After having some suspicions of her salary, Alzate’s aunt advised her to contact Sayas’ firm to inquire if she was entitled to back wages after noticing her payments and hours were not what they should be.

“Going through this process is not easy, but if you know that if you have someone behind you,  you will go for it,” said Alzate. (www.asianjournal.com)


Sen Schatz Introduces Legislation to Protect Census Accuracy

WASHINGTON, DC--U.S. Senator Brian Schatz joined a group of senators in introducing the 2020 Census Improving Data and Enhanced Accuracy (IDEA) Act, legislation that would protect the accuracy of the 2020 census and ensure any proposed changes to the count are properly studied, researched, and tested.

“We need to make sure the 2020 census is on the level,” said Senator Schatz. “There is too much at stake for Congress to avoid its oversight responsibilities. With this bill, we can protect the 2020 census, and in doing so protect our Constitution.”

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross proposed a new addition to the census that may impact the accuracy of the survey. One of the changes would be to count only U.S. citizens in the next census. Without proper studies and testing, last-minute changes or additions, such as the one currently being proposed, may discourage people from being counted and may not result in an accurate population count as mandated by the Constitution.

“The census is critical to ensuring everyone is counted accurately and represented fairly in Oregon and nationwide,” said Senator Wyden. “This legislation will help to achieve that vital task by ensuring political whims do not interfere with this constitutionally required counting of the American people.”

“The Constitution requires the census to count every single person living in each state, not just citizens. The Trump Administration seems to think they are above the Constitution and are now trying to use the 2020 census to advance their extreme, anti-immigrant agenda,” said Senator Duckworth. “I’m proud to join Senator Schatz and my Senate colleagues in introducing this important legislation to protect the accuracy of the census and prevent it from being politicized in such a transparently discriminatory fashion.”

The 2020 Census IDEA Act would:

  • Prohibit last-minute changes or additions to the census without proper research, studying, and testing;
  • Ensure that subjects, types of information, and questions that have not been submitted to Congress according to existing law are not included;
  • Require biannual reports on the U.S. Census Bureau’s operation plan, including the status of its research and testing, and require that this report be publicly available on the Bureau’s website;
  • Direct the U.S. Government Accountability Office to determine and report to Congress that the subjects, types of information, and questions on the decennial census have been researched, studied, and tested to the same degree as previous decennial census; and
  • Apply the provisions of this bill only to the decennial census, and not the mid-decade census or the American Community Survey.

Joining Sen. Schatz in the introduction of the bill were Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).

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