Filipina Caregivers Win $70K In Back Wages From Richmond District Rest Home

Categories: Law & Order
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Meg Whitman isn't the only one forking over thousands of dollars in back pay to her hired help. While "Queen Meg" made her problem go away with $5,500, a Richmond District care home had to pay far more in back wages -- $70,000 in fact -- to two Filipina caregivers who say they worked long hours seven days a week without meal periods. 

The Parks Rest Home, a licensed care home for six elderly and disabled patients, wrote hefty checks to Victoria Aquino and Lourdes Torres in a settlement agreement at the end of November, says Terry Valen, the director of the Filipino Community Center. The two employees were on the verge of a hearing with the state Division of Labor Standards Enforcement when the home agreed to settle. The owners of the Park home were not available for comment at press time. 

"It's a pretty big victory for our community," Valen told SF Weekly. "Filipinos are known as domestic workers and this industry is going to expand as the baby boom generation grows older. A lot of [Filipino workers] don't know their rights, are worried about their immigration status, and don't want to speak up."

Aquino, older than 60 herself, started working at the home in 2007 from 6 a.m. to late at night cooking the six patients' meals, dispensing their medications, washing their laundry, and maintaining the facility. The Parks family hired on Torres as her backup, subjecting her to long hours as well.

The women held a press conference last spring after they were able to win an eight hour workday from the previous on-call 24-hour one. After the event was covered in the Filipino media, Valen says his nonprofit received dozens of calls from Filipinos around the Bay Area and even out of state, reporting similar tales. The Filipino Community Center is now sending those people to pro bono labor attorneys and the Women's Employment Rights Clinic at Golden Gate University School of Law.

"We're starting to win victories with an organizing campaign that allows workers to know they have these rights regardless of their immigration status," Valen says.

New York became the first state to extend labor laws to domestic workers this year. While California has yet to do the same, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano introduced a domestic workers' bill of rights earlier this year that was chaptered by the secretary of state in September.

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