San Antonio Janitorial Workers Sue Over Unpaid Wages

SAN ANTONIO, Texas – February 1, 2012 – Two San Antonio low-wage workers have sued Caterpillar, Inc., McLemore Building Maintenance, Inc., and Texas Power Systems, LLC, for  failing to pay them for all the hours they worked and failing to pay them the overtime wages required by state and federal law.

The lawsuit, filed today in federal court in San Antonio, states that in 2010 and 2011 the three companies jointly employed the workers, failed to record and pay them for all of their hours, and required the workers to do unpaid work off-the-clock. The employees are represented by attorneys from Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA) and the Equal Justice Center (EJC).  

“I worked hard at the TPS Factory and I believe I was not fully paid for my hours,” said Filiberto Casteñeda, one of the workers who filed the lawsuit.  “All workers should be treated with respect, no matter what their job or pay.  I worked many overtime hours, time that I was away from my family, and I believe I was not paid for much of that time.”

The lawsuit alleges that the three companies violated the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and that McLemore Building Maintenance, Inc. breached its contracts.  Under the FLSA, an employer must pay 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 beyond 40 in a given week.

A worker can have more than one employer under the FLSA, and companies who jointly employ workers are each responsible for ensuring workers are paid proper minimum wage and overtime.

Employees can enforce their overtime and other wage rights regardless of their citizenship or immigration status.  The FLSA also prohibits an employer from retaliating against an employee for asserting his or her rights under the FLSA.

According to Claire Rodriguez, an EJC attorney representing the workers, non-payment of overtime wages is a widespread problem for low-wage workers in these types of cases. “Working men and women who are required to work more than 40 hours a week are supposed to be paid extra overtime pay in most cases; that’s been the law in America for more than 70 years,” said Rodriguez. “Our collaboration helps working people enforce their overtime and other wage rights.”

The opening of the TPS factory in Seguin, Texas in 2010 attracted media attention as a new employer in the region that would bring between three-hundred and four-hundred good jobs to the area.  The company employs over four-hundred workers at its Seguin plant.

The workers’ legal action is part of a broader wage rights enforcement initiative launched in 2009 by TRLA and EJC in the San Antonio region.  The two organizations have recently joined forces to help low-wage working people in San Antonio whose wage rights have been violated.  Workers interested in learning more about their rights can contact the project at 210-308-6222 or visit http://www.equaljusticecenter.org and http://www.trla.org.

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