Testimony of Eugene Thomas, DOES Budget Hearing
On Wednesday, May 1, 2013, Eugene Thomas testified before the DC Council’s Committee on Workforce and Community Affairs about his experiences with wage theft and asked the DC Council to hold the Office of Wage-Hour accountable for enforcing protections against wage theft. Watch Eugene and learn what we need to do to fight wage theft. Whether or not you were able to attend, please email Marion Barry today to tell him you support these workers.
Click here for more pictures and a recap of the wage theft action.
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Below is the text of his testimony:
My name is Eugene Thomas, and I am a ward 2 resident who is here to tell my story of wage theft. Although my story had a happy ending, I know that a lot of people do not. I am here today to talk about the importance of improving the Office of Wage-Hour to protect DC workers from wage theft.
I was working for the Emergency Preparedness Project as a contractor. I worked very hard and even used some of my own money to ensure the children I taught would understand and learn about emergency situations. The problems began during the summer of 2011. I did not get paid at all for the month of July and I was only paid once in August.
After waiting for weeks, I received a check, but it was not the full amount I was owed. I had faith in the fact that my supervisor might still pay me, but the rest of the check never came. Finally, I contacted my supervisor to ask for the balance of $400. I was informed that the contract had ended and there was no more money.
She began to make me feel like a criminal by saying that I wanted to steal the money. I only wanted what I was owed and my integrity means more to me than money. I began to pray about the situation and began working with the Employment Justice Center to write letters to my supervisor asking to be paid what I was owed.
I did not even think about going to the Office of Wage-Hour because I wasn’t aware that there was anywhere I could go to get help with my problem. It is not an agency that is easily accessible to the public. I have since observed from my peers that it is not always successful with cases like mine. Why would anyone bother wasting their time?
But I did get lucky. Eventually, my supervisor responded to my letter and called me to say “I want to do right by you.” I was in shock when she sent me the full amount of money that I was owed. My prayers were answered.
I am here today to support other victims of wage theft because I know that not everyone has a happy ending and I feel like that someone should stand up for the little people. Mr. Barry, I remember when you were the mayor of DC, you made it so all students had summer jobs and you took care of the seniors. Now, it is time for us to work together to protect workers and make sure workers get what is due to them. Again, thank you and may God bless you. I pray that you continue to support the hard working residents of DC.