Dirty Dealings in Houston-area Cleaners

Rubi Z. is student, a daughter, and a worker. Like many in her situation, she has to work her way through school in order to make ends meet and help out her family. On top of working, studying for tests, writing papers, and helping her family, she recently got another assignment to add to her list: fighting for her hard-earned wages. According to Rubi, her former employer, H Town Cleaners, refuses to pay her overtime for her work. When she stood up to her employer and demanded her due wages, she was fired from her job!

Just like Rubi, other workers report working up to 60 hours a week and being paid no overtime and sometimes as little as $4.00 per hour. According to Rubi’s records, she is owed $1,756 for overtime and minimum wage violations while working at H Town Cleaners. Imagine how many textbooks or how many classes Rubi could pay for with this money.

Workers like Rubi, who are part of the working families that help create our city’s economy and who are the future of our city, deserve more than sweatshop working conditions and stolen wages. She’s only one of thousands of Houston workers subject to these types of corrosive jobs which threaten the well-being of our communities and economy.

On March 15th, 2012, Rubi, along with another former H Town employee, and Houston Worker Center staff and allies, paid a visit to H Town Cleaners to demand her due wages and better working conditions for their employees. As we they walked in to the shop, Rubi was greeted by name by the manager and some of the current employees, however, as soon as they realized the reason of her visit, they claimed not to know her and said she had never been employed there.

The manager was confronted with the wage theft allegations and refused to acknowledge any of the claims. Finally, the small delegation was asked to leave the premises, but not before talking to customers and flyering the shopping center to denounce H Town Cleaners’ labor abuses.

That evening, the Worker Center received a call from the manager admitting that she had employed Rubi for $5.15 an hour and paid her no overtime, but excused her actions by saying that Rubi had agreed to this pay and that based on her experience, she didn’t deserve to be paid any more. Unfortunately for H Town Cleaners, the FLSA and the DOL Wage & Hour Division beg to differ.

Rubi has now filed a formal complaint with W&H in hopes of recovering her due wages and helping other workers who may have been cheated by H Town Cleaners. She now begins the wait for the W&H investigation and wage recovery process, but she is only one of many other workers in Houston affected by this crime. Join Rubi and other Houston workers, organizations, and responsible businesses in bringing down wage theft and making Houston a just and prosperous place to work. Learn how to get involved here.

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