Enforcement at EJC
On May 29, 2013, Victor Hernandez received a judgment of $47,736 in unpaid wages, fees and damages against his former employer, Mexican Fruits, LLC. Most people would expect that to be the end of the story, but fortunately for Victor, the EJC is helping to make sure there is a happy ending to this one.
Many people do not realize that getting a judgment is often times the first step to getting paid the wages that they are owed. After EJC successfully litigated his case, Victor had a judgment – a document saying that his former employer owed him money. The hard part for most plaintiffs is forcing the employer to actually pay a judgment.
Recognizing the problem of getting employers to pay judgments, the Employment Justice Center began a post-judgment collections initiative with a grant from the Jovid Foundation. Collecting judgments is a bit of art in that using a combination of tools will yield satisfaction. One very good discovery tool is the oral examination hearing where the judgment-debtor is required to appear in court and answer questions pertaining to assets that can be used to pay the judgment. Another common and effective tool is garnishing a judgment-debtor’s bank account. Garnishment is the fastest and easiest way to recover money for workers.
By using these tools creatively and persistently, EJC Wage Theft Enforcement Attorney John Daroff has already collected $14,858 for EJC clients. For Victor, EJC has recovered $4,700 and successfully fought a challenge to his judgment. The Court awarded EJC an additional $8,000 in reasonable attorney’s fees for its enforcement efforts.
In another case, John won a judgment of $27,250 when the court found the Defendant in contempt of court. To date John has been able to collect $10,000 of the judgment and is continuing his efforts to force the former employer to pay the judgment in full.
Post-judgment collections are another tool that EJC is using to combat wage theft. In keeping with EJC’s mission of supporting workplace justice for the most vulnerable among us this new effort is holding employers accountable, empowering workers and recovering lost wages.