Friday, September 23, 2011

Worker recovers $13,000 in stolen wages from Memphis restaurant

     Did you know that there are some waiters in Memphis who are getting paid nothing by the restaurants they work for, except for the tips you leave?

Fernando asked for WIN members' support as he fought to get his stolen wages from Mis Pueblos restaurant

     That's what happened to Fernando Santiago. Fernando was a waiter at Mis Pueblos restaurant. He worked 60 hours a week.  The law required Mis Pueblos to pay him $2.13 an hour. If customers' tips did not bring his pay up to $7.25 an hour, the restaurant was also supposed to pay the difference. Since Fernando was also working more than 40 hours a week, he was also entitled to overtime pay for the extra 20 hours a week he worked.

    Fernando wasn't sure what the law said about his pay, but he knew he was entitled to some kind of wages besides tips. He called one of our partner organizations, Latino Memphis, who referred him to WIN's Workers' Center.

    After Fernando sat down with WIN staff member Alfredo Pena, they figured out Mis Pueblos owed Fernando tens of thousands of dollars.

   After several negotiation sessions between Mis Pueblos and WIN, Fernando agreed to take a settlement of $13,000 in back wages.

    This is the most money that WIN has helped a worker recover, without having to involve an attorney, since our Workers' Center began four years ago. We could not have done it without the generous financial support and activism of WIN members like you!

   Reflecting on the experience, Fernando said "I feel good, and not that good at the same time, because they only paid me part of what they owed me. But it's good to know that no matter what, we all have rights here. What they were doing was stealing. Maybe this will make the manager start paying his employees like he's supposed to."

    Fernando also wants to share his appreciation to all the members of WIN for supporting his in his struggle to get his stolen wages. He's become a member of WIN's Workers' Center. He's already working to recruit more restaurant workers to get training on their workplace rights from WIN.

    I was also deeply moved by Fernando's decision to donate $2,000 of his wage settlement back to WIN so that we can support other workers' wage theft cases. WIN requires that all workers who win their cases donate 10% of their settlement back to the Center, but Fernando went above and beyond this. "I received help from WIN, and if I can help a little bit back, I want to do that," Fernando said. "The more we support WIN, the more WIN is able to help others."

Want to join Fernando in supporting WIN? Make a gift so that our Workers' Center can partner with other workers who are facing wage theft: