Testimony of Solange Ayuk, DOES Performance Oversight Hearing
On Monday, March 4, 2013, Solange Ayuk testified before the DC Council’s Committee on Workforce and Community Affairs about her experiences with wage theft and the Office of Wage-Hour. Below is video and prepared text her testimony.
I used to work at Vizion One as a home health aide. I worked there for 34 days and the payment was $10.50 an hour. I did my work well, but my pay was withheld for one bad reason after another.
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First, I had to work for three weeks before my boss gave me an official job application. After that, I was asked to wait another two weeks before I could get paid. Then, after those two weeks, I was told I couldn’t be paid because my timesheets were filled out in blue ink. When I went to check this with the management of the company, I was told that they had no record of my employment and that my clients health insurance had expired so they couldn’t pay me. I was able to renew the client’s health insurance, but half my paycheck was still withheld.
After six months of struggle to get the remaining part of my check, the Employment Justice Center helped me write a letter to my employer with a deadline to pay. My boss ignored it, so I then got the DC Office of Wage-Hour involved.
I had to wait for a couple of weeks before I was told that the case would be mediated and that I would have to wait another month after that before I would hear anything. I was discouraged the whole time, and I had to carry the consequences of not getting paid. I had to leave school because I didn’t have the money to pay for the courses. It was very painful to wait almost hopelessly for the money I had worked hard for.
I was eventually called to come in and pick up my check. My employer had paid. I ended up getting the money I was owed, but I did not get any interest or liquidated damages. I had to wait a very long time and I was frustrated that I was not compensated for this time I had to wait. Employers shouldn’t be able to come out ahead when they break the law.
I feel happy and lucky that I got my money back. I have learned that many people have not had success and do not get back their lost wages. But I shouldn’t have to feel lucky, because everyone who works hard deserves to be paid on time for what they are owed.