Testimony of Solange Ayuk, DOES Budget Hearing
On Wednesday, May 1, 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, and asked the DC Council to hold the Office of Wage-Hour accountable for enforcing protections against wage theft. Watch Solange 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 her testimony:
My name is Solange Ayuk, and I am here today to talk about the responsibility of the Office of Wage-Hour to help workers collect damages when they are not paid their wages, and to promote an increase in funding for the DC Office of Wage-Hour so they can do more to help people like me.
I used to work at Vizion One as a home health aide. I worked there for 34 days at the rate of $10.50 an hour. I did my work well, but my pay was withheld.
I struggled for six months trying to get paid what I was owed. Finally, I went to the Employment Justice Center and they helped me write a letter to my employer with a deadline to pay. My boss ignored it, which is when I 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 then I had to wait another month after that before I heard anything about my case. This long wait period reflects the fact that the Office of Wage-Hour does not have enough staff members or budget to properly address all the cases that come through. I know that many people are facing many months to years of waiting and get no results from the DC Office of Wage-Hour.
I was eventually called to come in and pick up my check. The investigator, Jim Alvarenga, told me I was lucky that my employer had paid. But even though I ended up getting the money I was owed, I did not get any interest or other damages. Not being compensated for this time I had to wait caused a lot of hardship in my life. 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. Employers shouldn’t be able to come out ahead with a free loan when they break the law, while workers must bear the costs.
Because I have personal experience of success from the Office of Wage-Hour, I have seen the good that can be done. But it is a problem that successes like mine do not happen more frequently.
I sincerely ask the DC Council to take action to protect DC workers from wage theft. I ask that the DC Office of Wage-Hour’s budget be increased to fund extra staff and extra compliance in protecting DC workers from wage theft. I ask that the DC Office of Wage Hour enforce the collection of more in damages. I believe these changes can increase the possibility that people get their money back and restore faith in this office as a place to find relief from bad employers.