Our law firm obtains $67,000 judgment for construction workers in wage and hour case for unpaid overtime wages
Construction workers awarded $67K in overtime lawsuit CYNTHIA DIPASQUALE Daily Record Legal Affairs Writer August 13, 2007 A magistrate judge in Greenbelt has ordered $67,000 in overtime wages be paid to three immigrant construction workers employed by a suburban Washington home remodeling company. Marcos Garcia, Daniel Espinoza and Manuel Portillo worked for C&M Builders Inc. variably between 1999 and December 2005, according to attorney Daniel A. Katz. While they were properly paid for 40 hours of work per week, they claimed to never have been paid time-and-a-half for overtime hours often totaling an additional 40 hours per week. “One of them worked there for six years,” Katz said of the employees. “Those who have less opportunities and less mobility tend to stay in situations which are unjust longer than those who have more choices and more mobility in life.” The construction company was represented by the Law Office of Melvin George Bergman in Greenbelt, which did not respond to a request for comment. Garcia worked with the Brentwood company between January 1999 and December 2005. Portillo was there from April 2003 until December 2005. Espinoza worked there from June through December 2005. All three were always paid in cash and were paid “straight time,” according to Katz. Two of the plaintiffs had some time records. The plaintiffs and witnesses testified that the company’s workers punched time cards from 2003 forward, but the defendants did not produce those documents during discovery, Katz said. While the case was fairly standard as far as wage claims go, Katz said the most challenging aspect was representing plaintiffs for whom going to court was “quite literally a foreign experience.” “I think in general … convincing low-wage — and especially low-wage immigrant workers — that it’s worth it to pursue claims in court is a tough haul because they’re generally treated so inequitably in other aspects of society and it’s such an effort to take that plaintiff to court,” he said. The case (8:06-cv-01945-JKS, filed July 28, 2006) was in U.S. District Court because the plaintiffs filed claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act. U.S. Magistrate Judge Jillyn K. Schulze found in the plaintiffs favor after a one-day bench trial on July 30. She entered a judgment of $45,622 for Garcia, $18,045 for Portillo and $2,790 for Espinoza.