LA City Attorney sues firm with many Filipino caregivers for wage theft
LOS ANGELES — In a precedent-setting case
to enforce minimum wage and overtime pay for domestic workers and protect
immigrant workers against wage theft, LA City Attorney Mike Feuer has filed a
lawsuit against Canoga Park-based homecare provider Emelyn Nishi and her
companies Health Alliance Nurses Corp. and Hand Homecare Provider, Inc.
This lawsuit could result in millions of
dollars in restitution and back-wages to approximately 200 primarily Filipino
caregivers because of alleged wage theft over the past four years.
Caregivers with the Pilipino Workers Center
(PWC) had launched a public campaign against this employer have since assisted
the California Labor Commissioner’s office to start an investigation that is
The workers then brought the case to the
City Attorney’s office to enforce their rights as domestic workers and send a
message to the homecare industry to end wage theft.
“We felt vindicated that the city attorney
found that there were lots of violations in terms of our wages. We were not
paid overtime. We hope that the case will be decided in favor of the caregivers
who are fighting for dignity and the right to be paid what they are owed,” said
Rufina Tubo, a former caregiver of Health Alliance and member of PWC.
The suit alleges that Emelyn Nishi and her
companies Health Alliance Nurses Corp., and Hand Homecare Provider, Inc.,
charged between $170 and $250 per day for 24-hour in-home domestic care to
families. However, these employees allegedly were paid only $100 to $125 per
shift, equating to as little as $5.50 per hour or less.
According to the lawsuit, defendants
allegedly pressured their caregivers to falsify time records to avoid overtime
payments, and routinely threatened them with termination or blacklisting within
Pilipino Workers Center Executive Director
Aquilina Soriano Versoza explained that “[In 2016] the overtime provision of
the California Domestic Workers Bill of Rights was made permanent in Sacramento
(SB1015- Leyva), ending finally and for good, over 75 years of exclusion from
overtime protections for nannies and caregivers. Today, with this case, we are
seeing our rights becoming a reality. Today we see the dignity of homecare
workers being upheld and uplifted.”
The lawsuit seeks an injunction against
further unlawful, unfair and fraudulent business acts as well as restitution to
all current and former employees who were not paid minimum wages or overtime.
In addition, defendants could face civil penalties up to $2,500 for each
This case is emblematic given the scope of
domestic work in California as well as the epidemic of worker exploitation
throughout the for-profit homecare industry.
More than two million households across
California hire domestic workers, whether it be for housecleaning, nannying, or
in-home support, with nearly one third of those homes hiring for supports and
services for seniors and people with disabilities.
This case emerges as the California
Domestic Workers Coalition, a statewide alliance, shifts its focus toward
statewide rights enforcement and worker education.
Director of Enforcement Strategies Sarah
Leadem said, “The collaboration between the caregiver leaders of Pilipino
Workers Center and the City Attorney of Los Angeles provides a powerful model
that domestic workers across the state may follow to exercise their rights and
defend their dignity.”
the City Attorney’s office and the Pilipino Workers Center areencouraging
anyone who has been a victim of wage theft to reach out to protect their
rights. To the City Attorney’s Office by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or
by phone at 213-978-1868 and to Pilipino Workers Center for ongoing
accompanying and support. PWC’s EMPLEO Pinoy workers rights hotline is 1 (877)