Underpaid for years, they finally recover the full back wages they earned — earnings vital to sustaining themselves and their families.
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Responding to the startling wave of refugee children fleeing Central American who have arrived at the Texas-Mexico border in recent months seeking refuge in the U.S. , the Equal Justice Center has mobilized its attorneys, law students, and interns have mobilized to help address their humanitarian need for legal counsel and assistance.
One of the primary refugee shelters where these refugee children are being temporarily held and processed is at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. Teams from the Equal Justice Center’s offices and San Antonio and Austin have been cleared to interview the children at the Lackland AFB facility to begin documenting who each child is and the circumstances that have led them to flee their home country. This is the vital first step to ensure that these children receive humanitarian due process of law, and to secure badly needed legal representation for those who may qualify for refuge under the humanitarian laws of our nation.
The children who are being interviewed by EJC teams, like most of those who have been arriving in recent months, are primarily coming from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. They have been telling EJC interviewers of the epidemic drug and gang violence that have put them in danger of being killed, assaulted, or coerced into gang servitude and prostitution. They have recounted the inability of their governments to protect them. Perhaps most heart-rending, they recount the despair of the families they have left behind who hate to see their children leave but fear even more for their children’s safety and health if they stay.
The Equal Justice Center has been conducting these documentation-interviews in close collaboration with RAICES, the front-line immigrant rights organization that is spearheading legal assistance efforts for these refugee children. In coming weeks EJC will be reinforcing and adapting its expertise and advocacy to help these children receive the humanitarian due process they deserve and to help the public understand and uphold our historic national values as a nation of refuge for immigrants fleeing oppression.
Twenty-four San Antonio area landscape workers have recovered unpaid wages owed to them by Milberger Landscaping, Inc. following several months of litigation. The recovery resolves a lawsuit (Cantu et al. v. Milberger Landscaping, Inc.) which the workers filed in federal court, alleging that Milberger Landscaping unlawfully failed to pay them for all the overtime hours they worked. The plaintiffs performed landscape maintenance at numerous worksites in and around Bexar County, but were not paid for all of their daily work hours. After the federal judge in the case made an initial ruling that Milberger Landscaping had violated the workers’ wage rights, Milberger Landscaping agreed to settle the claims.
The lawsuit, filed in August of last year in federal district court in San Antonio, alleged that in recent years,Milberger Landscaping failed to record and pay for all of the hours the employees worked, including compensable drive time between jobsites where the employees worked. In April of this year, Senior United States District Judge Harry Lee Hudspeth ruled that Milberger Landscaping had violated the federal wage and hour laws by failing to pay the plaintiffs for all of the hours they worked.
“We filed this lawsuit because we were not treated fairly by Milberger’s. We are pleased that the Court agreed, and we hope this will encourage other workers who aren’t getting paid for all their work time,” said Ronald Loredo, one of the workers who participated in the lawsuit. The employees were represented in the lawsuit by attorneys from the Equal Justice Center (EJC) and Edmond Moreland of the Moreland Law Firm, PC.
The workers sued the company for violating the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Under the FLSA, an employer must pay most employees minimum wage of at least $7.25 per hour and overtime of 1.5 times an employee’s regular pay rate for each hour worked over 40 in a given workweek. “In most instances, working men and women who work more than forty (40) hours per week are supposed to be paid overtime pay and to be paid for all their work hours; that’s been the law in America for more than 70 years. Making employees do some of their work ‘off the clock’ is an all-too-common violation among companies that employ a low-wage workforce,” said Philip Moss, one of the EJC attorneys who represented the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.