Filipino caregiver couple awarded almost $150,000 in unpaid overtime, damages

A Filipino couple employed in caregiving facilities in Concord were awarded their claim for unpaid wages including overtime, liquidated damages and waiting penalties by a labor court in Oakland California.

Plaintiffs or complainants Joselito and Perla del Rios (not their real names) emerged victorious in a decision penned by hearing officer Maria Laboy of Labor Commissioner’s Office came out almost four months after a hearing was held in February 28, 2018 and heaved a heavy sigh of relief after feeling tensed while their cases were being considered and finally heard in a full blown trial at the Oakland Department of Labor Standard Enforcement.

The order decision and award of the Labor Commissioner has become final and enforceable after the defendants Noriega reportedly failed to file an appeal to the appropriate court within 10 days of service of the document.

Plaintiffs del Rios couple filed an initial claim with the Labor Commissioner’s Office on May 18, 2017 alleging that they were paid a monthly flat rate corresponding to $9 per hour, eight hours a day, and five days a week.

The complainant couple worked at the Ella’s Home Inc. then transferred to Gaenor Home Inc. both in Concord, owned and administered by mother and son Estrella and Dioneil Noriega from May 18, 2014 to September 30, 2016.

In the case of Joselito, docketed as Case Number 07-86396, a decision that was dated June 13, 2018 “ordered that Plaintiff (Joselito) recover from defendant balance due to employee due to overtime (32,954.93 with interest balance of $5,606.85), liquidated damages ($21,470.00 with interest balance of $3,652.84), and waiting time penalties ($4,496.40) bring the total figures to as follows:

Total Overtime wages $38,561.78
Total Liquidate Damages $25,122.84
Waiting time penalties $4,496.40
Total $68,181.02

The amount awarded Perla (with Case Number: 07-86397) did not differ much as she was ordered to recover from defendant balance due to employee due to overtime (32,954.93 with interest balance of $5,615.88), liquidated damages ($21,470.00 with interest balance of $3,658.72), and waiting time penalties ($4,496.40) bring the total figures to as follows:

Total Overtime wages $38,570.81
Total Liquidate Damages $25,128.72
Waiting time penalties  $4,496.40
Total $68,195.93

In the hearing conducted in Oakland California on February 28, 2018, plaintiff was represented by Atty. Richard Taguinod while on behalf of Ella’s Home Inc. and Gaenor’s Home Inc., Dioneil Lee Noriega, administrator and Estrella G. Noriega, administrator/owner appeared.

The del Rios couple performed services as Caregivers under the terms of an oral employment agreement in the County of Contra Costa, California at the applicable minimum wage rate per year on a monthly basis.

They lived in the facility Monday through Friday and among the duties that had to do were getting the residents ready for school: bathing, dressing, feeding the residents and arranging their backpacks and complete other tasks after the residents left for school. They would also prepare dinner, do laundry, administering medication, supervising and monitoring the resident’s playtime as well as cleaning and bathing the residents as needed and usually sleeps at 10:00 p.m.

Through their testimonies, the plaintiffs established that they worked 11.5 hours per day during time residents attended a school program and up to 16 hours per day during the times residents did not attend a school program.

Defendants are hereby ordered to pay each of the Plaintiffs their wages for overtime and double-time hours as follows: May 18, 2014 to February 13, 2016 for 1643 hours at $13.50 per hour; from May 18, 2014 to /February 13, 2016 for 372 hours at 18 per hours (double the regular rate of pay); from February 14, 2016 to July 2, 2016 for 375.50 hours at $15.hour (time and ½ the regular rate of pay)

Their del Rios couple’s lawyer Richard Taguinod shared that, although the couple were confident for a favorable decision because they know they were not paid the extra hours they should have been paid, they were stressed and experienced difficulty while the case was being heard.

“Now, they’re even afraid of retaliation (physical harm) from Defendants. But they had to move on and continue to work as caregivers which was the only skill and (work) experience they had in the U.S.,” Taguinod relates. “Just like them, most of the caregivers do not know that they should be paid of their nighttime duties too. They should not be paid a flat rate just because they were being fed and afforded lodging by employer.

Taguinod emphasized that employers cannot claim a debt of gratitude from the caregivers/employees for providing them (caregivers) jobs because employers also benefit from the service rendered by the employees.

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