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Worker succeeds in recovering unpaid overtime wages

Using the Lien for Unpaid Wages Act forces employers to pay up

Mr. Lopez and his settlement checkJanuary 27, 2015:  When Heriberto Lopez was hired to cast concrete stair molds for a building supply company, his employers required him to sign a contract stating that he would not receive overtime, no matter how many hours he worked. They lived up to that illegal promise, paying him only at his regular hourly rate when he worked more than 40 hours a week. Mr. Lopez asked several times for overtime to no avail. Frustrated, he called the Public Justice Center, which confirmed that the lack of overtime pay violated both state and federal law, and that any attempt by his employers to have Mr. Lopez waive his right to overtime was illegal. PJC attorney Andrea Vaughn sent Mr. Lopez’s employers a letter demanding payment of the overtime wages plus penalties. Utilizing a law that the PJC helped pass, the letter also informed Mr. Lopez’s employers of his intent to establish a lien for unpaid wages on their property. It worked. The possibilities of the lien and further legal action got his employers’ attention. After settlement talks, Mr. Lopez received a check for his overtime wages and penalties charged to the employers for violating the law.

Mr. Lopez’s victory is one of many similar wage theft cases the Public Justice Center has taken on since passage of the Lien for Unpaid Wages Act in 2013. We’re also training advocates and workers in using the new law. The goal is to create systemic change by ensuring the law is effective in compelling employers to pay their workers fully and on time.

If you’re interested in hosting a training, please contact the PJC at (410) 625-9409.

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