San Antonio Worker Sues for Unpaid Wages and Retaliation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Sarah Donaldson, Attorney
Office: 210-212-3704
sdonaldson@trla.org

SAN ANTONIO, Texas – February 22, 2010 – A San Antonio worker has sued Dallas-based Jani-King International, Inc. and local Jani-King employers Ramiro and Elizabeth Bernal for violating minimum wage and overtime laws and for unlawful retaliation.

Represented by Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA) and the Equal Justice Center (EJC), Gabriela Monsivaiz alleges that she was not paid minimum wage and overtime for the janitorial work she performed for Jani-King between 2007 and 2009.  The lawsuit also alleges that Ms. Monsivaiz was terminated when she asked to be paid properly.

“The complaint alleges that our client was fired because she stood up for her rights to minimum and overtime wages,”said Sarah Donaldson, a TRLA attorney representing Monsivaiz.

The lawsuit alleges that Jani-King and its local operators violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Texas Minimum Wage Act. According to these laws, employees must be paid at least $7.25 per hour of work.  Under the FLSA, an employer must also pay overtime of 1.5 times an employee’s hourly rate for each hour worked beyond 40 in a given week.  The FLSA prohibits an employer from retaliating against an employee for asserting her rights under the FLSA.  The lawsuit was filed in federal court in San Antonio.

Monsivaiz’s case comes as part of a new San Antonio-based wage recovery project aimed at helping low-income workers recover when they are unpaid or underpaid for their work. TRLA and the EJC, two non-profit law firms with experience advocating for low-income workers, are collaborating on this project to address the growing problem of workers’ rights violations in San Antonio.  Workers who are interested in learning more about their rights can contact the project at 210-308-6222.

According to Donaldson, the problem is wide-spread. “We have heard many complaints from janitorial workers who, like our client, say they were not paid correctly for their work cleaning the businesses, schools and restaurants we all use.”

Established in 1970, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc. (TRLA) is a nonprofit organization that provides free civil legal services to low-income and disadvantaged clients in a 68-county service area. TRLA’s mission is to promote the dignity, self-sufficiency, safety and stability of low-income Texas residents by providing high-quality civil legal assistance and related educational services. The Equal Justice Center (EJC) is an employment justice and civil rights organization which empowers low-income families, individuals and communities to achieve systemic reforms that improve their lives.  For more information on these organizations visit http://www.equaljusticecenter.org or http://www.trla.org.

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