LOS ANGELES – Continuing his aggressive fight against alleged wage theft, City Attorney Mike Feuer today announced his office has sued a Canoga Park-based home care provider for allegedly routinely failing to pay its employees minimum wage and overtime.
"Stealing wages from hard-working men and women is reprehensible," said Feuer. "No worker should be forced into poverty because an employer denies them their basic rights to a minimum wage and overtime. My office will aggressively combat wage theft and fight to ensure all workers are paid what the law demands."
"This case is sending the important message that here in Los Angeles City, immigrant workers rights are being protected," said Aquilina Soriano, Executive Director of the Pilipino Workers Center. Immigrant workers like the Filipina homecare workers of this homecare agency have suffered from poverty wages while providing heart-felt, quality care to the elders of our city."
"SEIU 2015 fights every day for the rights of our dedicated home healthcare workers," said President Laphonza Butler, Local SEIU 2015. "We applaud City Attorney Mike Feuer's leadership and commitment to fighting wage theft and look forward to continuing to support those efforts in the days ahead."
The complaint alleges that during the last four years, Emelyn Nishi and her corporations Health Alliance Nurses Corp., and Hand Homecare Provider, Inc., have employed two hundred workers or more, mostly Filipino, immigrants. Defendants allegedly charge between $170 and $250 per day for 24-hour in-home domestic care to families. However, these employees allegedly were paid only $100 to $125 per shift, equating to as little as $5.50 per hour or less. According to the lawsuit, defendants allegedly pressured their employed caregivers to falsify time records to avoid overtime payments, and routinely threatened them with termination or blacklisting within the industry.
The defendants allegedly also prohibited caregivers from discussing rates directly with clients and often threatened exorbitant contractual penalties for entering into a direct hire position with clients. Defendants allegedly misclassified their caregiver employees as independent contractors to avoid paying federal and state payroll taxes and sidestep government investigations.
The lawsuit seeks an injunction against further alleged unlawful, unfair and fraudulent business acts as well as restitution to all current and former employees who were not paid minimum wages or overtime. In addition, defendants could face civil penalties up to $2,500 for each violation.
Feuer asked other workers who may be the victims of wage theft to come forward and report it directly to his office by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 213-978-1868. Feuer emphasized that wage theft victims may report to his office anonymously.
Deputy City Attorneys Ben Delfin and Miguel Bahamon of Feuer’s Affirmative Litigation Unit are handling the litigation. Read the complaint here.