July 7 protest for wage theft

For Immediate Release
Members and staff of Paso del Norte Civil Rights Project, the Labor Justice Committee, and Border Network for Human Rights gathered on Alameda Street this afternoon to support several former employees of a local pallet-making factory, Pallets of El Paso. These workers filed suit today against the factory for egregious violations of minimum wage law and retaliation. Paso del Norte Civil Rights Project represents the aggrieved workers.
The managing partner of Pallets of El Paso, Juan D. Hernandez, is also an assistant principal at Jefferson High School, located on Alameda Street in El Paso.
The plaintiffs in the case worked as laborers and forklift operators at a local factory that makes pallets for manufacturers throughout the region. They often labored over forty hours per week and were paid well under the minimum wage for the work they performed. None of the workers ever received overtime for hours they worked over forty hours per week.
“We worked hard and often made under $5 an hour for our work. This is not a legal wage. Nor is it a just wage that allowed us to provide for our families. When we brought up our pay with our employer, he would threaten us and tell us that we didn’t have rights,” said Luis Hernandez, a former employee of the company.
When Mr. Hernandez learned that several workers met with a lawyer, he fired them and threatened to call law enforcement if they proceeded with a demand against him.
The case has been filed as a collective action under federal law. “Federal labor law allows for collective actions. This means that the named workers will bring this lawsuit as representatives of all workers who suffered from these pay violations. Other workers will have the opportunity to come into the lawsuit later in the litigation.” Said Chris Benoit, attorney for Paso del Norte Civil Rights Project. “It is our hope that the actions of these brave workers will show other victims of wage violations that they can stand up for their rights.”
For more information, please contact Christopher Benoit at (915) 532-3799 ext. 10

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