EJC Serves Up Justice for Local Restaurant Worker Deprived Of Her Wages
In 1980, Maria Alvarez* started working at a well-known D.C. Spanish restaurant. Maria was more than an employee: for nearly thirty years she was an instrumental part of the restaurant’s business. She waited tables, bartended, bussed tables, managed operations, and even served as security in the later hours.
Each week, she worked up to eighty hours – but she was never paid overtime, nor given paid vacation or paid sick days. For her hard work, Maria brought home $400 per week, working out to about $5 per hour on average – well below the minimum wage. Sometimes, her employer would “pay” her a bonus sum, but once she had endorsed the checks, and before she had cashed them, he would ask for them back – so they were never really hers at all.
In 2010, Maria came to the Worker’s Rights Clinic. After a demand letter went unanswered, we took on her case. For two years, EJC Staff Attorneys Lisa Guerra and Sally Abrahamson litigated Maria’s case, and in February 2012, the case went to trial. In January 2013, the court awarded Maria $90,000, a recovery of three years of wages and liquidated damages.
EJC succeeded in getting the court to award Maria the maximum amount allowed under the law. We are so excited to share this legal services victory with you – our volunteers and supporters- who enable us to fight for justice for workers like Maria everyday!
Please join us in fighting for stronger wage laws to protect workers like Maria by signing our wage theft petition, so we’ll know to keep you informed of action opportunities.
*Name has been changed