Skip to comments.Linen employees not paid, threatened to be deported
Posted on 11/15/2008 4:37:39 PM PST by nckerr
More than a dozen industrial laundry employees, many of whom are undocumented, have been left wringing their hands and squeezing money from their pocketbooks after not being able to cash their last three paychecks. Employees at West Coast Linen, a laundering service at 8190 Murray Ave., have not been paid for their last five weeks of work, employees said. Employees also allege that the company is pressuring them to keep quiet by threatening to call Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which captures and deports illegal aliens. When contacted, a top employee at the Gilroy branch acknowledged that people were not being paid and that the company was in disarray.
"They keep lying to us and telling us to keep working and that there will be money in the bank in a couple of days," said a middle-aged female employee who asked not to have her name printed for fear of retaliation.
West Coast Linens' parent company, Sausalito-based Lohrey Enterprises Inc., filed for bankruptcy Oct. 17, according to records from the United States Bankruptcy Court.
Another female employee spoke to her manager about the troubles only to have him say that there is no secretary to deliver to checks and that he told everyone "not to deposit the checks because there was no money," she said.
At a later date, she was told by her supervisor that there is nothing any of the employees could do "if they're undocumented workers" and they could call immigration on them, she said.
She added that nearly everyone employed at West Coast Linen is undocumented.
A man at West Coast Linen, who answered the phone when The Dispatch asked to speak to a manager but refused to state his position or name, said "there's a lot more than two (who aren't getting paid) and right now I can't comment there are a lot of things going on in court right now." He also said there is no manager right now at the local company.
The crisis is spilling out to other businesses besides West Coast Linen. Juan Godinez owns Los Cuates Grocery Store in Hollister where a few employees of West Coast Linen have tried to cash their paychecks. Both the paychecks he cashed ended up bouncing and charging him a fee, he said. He now refuses to cash paychecks from any person bringing him a paycheck from the laundering company.
"Since yesterday, we were sent home and we were told they would call us when the water was back on," said another employee wishing to remain anonymous. She added that up until then everyone was still working.
"What we want is for them to stop lying and for them to pay what they owe us for hours we've worked already," an employee said.
A group of employees of West Coast Linen are going to San Jose on Monday to speak with a representative at the Self-help center at the Notre Dame Courthouse. The group is unsure what legal challenges they face trying to use the court system depite being undocumented, but employees are adamant about securing their wages.
"I'm almost willing to be deported," said one employee, who has a wife and children and who received an eviction notice because he is behind on rent. "What the heck am I doing here? I'd rather be suffering in my own town," he said.
“Kinda sucks to be here illegally”
Isn’t that Stalinist?...
That said, pay them and send them home.
Go ahead. Please. Go home. Now!
And by "undocumented" you mean they have either stolen someone else's Socialist Security Number or have simply made one up out of whole cloth. Heh, heh. Linen workers. Whole cloth. I crack myself up.
I guess they been worsted.
Pay and deport, then charge the owners.
“I’m almost willing to be deported,” said one employee
I just felt very good hearing this. What can I do to ensure this individual and family makes this reality.
Looks like they had the wool pulled over their eyes.
Oh what tangled webs they weave...
But I’m sure it will come out in the wash...
Yes. This will all be ironed out soon enough.
Talk about a blanket statement.
This one is ripe for analogies.
Obviously, they are in deep sheet.
Unfortunately, this happens a lot to illegals. They are hired for work and work for days on pay day....they are never paid.
If the story is accuate, the owners and managers need to go to federal prison. I’m a bit suprised they would file bankruptcy - not usually a good choice for wrongdoers.
Condi says they contribute mightily to our economy. How can this be if they're not getting paid?
Federal crime?! Nevertheless, I am in complete agreement. The illegals shouldn't be here and I'll be happy if they just return home -- but those taking advantage of them this way are lower than low.
Don't fold yet. Unless you are feeling pressed.
By working (i.e. being producers, even if not compensated)...?
There's a constant tug-of-war in this state over prison labor, which can be much cheaper than free-market.
Oof! I cannot keep up with your fabrications.
Don't throw in the towel just yet.
Employing illegals entitles them to federal time. I thought there was a criminal aspect to wage and hour violations, but it may just be a civil money penalty.
Yup - pay them and send them home. Jail the scum who hired them and then tried not to pay them. The only thing worse than illegals are people who exploit illegals.
I just came up with another theory for prosecution. Use the anti-slavery laws.
I'd be satisfied with invoking both on the employers. I hear federal time is not as hard as state time, but hit them in the pocketbook too and they may re-think things in the future.
That might be difficult given that deception, not coercion, was involved here (at least initially? hmmm...).
But I rather stand with Frantzie here: "The only thing worse than illegals are people who exploit illegals."
Again I’ll qualify ‘if the story is correct’ threatening to have the worker’s family incarcerated and expelled if the worker doesn’t continue to labor for free should meet the level of proof needed.
NO, send them home and once safely across boarder pay them, then find the jerks who didnot pay up and confiscate everything they own and send them somewhere as well.
That works too.
The promise of a paycheck would be pretty good bait either way.
They are sheet out of luck
Holy sheet! I don’t cotton to not paying workers, even illegal ones. Linen them up, pay’m off, then send tehm home to mummy...then clap the bosses in irons, since it’s illegal to mangle them.
When hiring, always look for the Union label, or at least a real Greengo Card.