Pinoy caregivers in San Francisco win $800K settlement

By Henni Espinosa, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Posted at Dec 30 2013 10:18 AM | Updated as of Dec 30 2013 09:10 PM

SAN FRANCISCO – It took years for them to get justice, but these Filipino caregivers said it was worth the wait.

Twenty-five Filipino caregivers from Sunset Gardens and Nacario’s Home of San Francisco, both Filipino-owned, and Veal’s Residential Care Home, filed wage theft claims against their employers.

After a few months, they received settlement agreements totaling more than $800,000. The Filipino Community Center (FCC) helped them file their claims before the Office of Labor Standards Enforcement.

Rowena Bonifacio said she was only paid $1,500 a month to care for multiple senior patients, 12 hours a day, at least five days a week. “We would start from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. But our salary did not reflect the work that we provided,” she said.

Mimi Luis was in a similar situation. She said the days were sometimes never-ending. “Sometimes, we would sleep as late as 2 a.m. Sometimes, we would not sleep at all. But our employer did not give us overtime pay.”

Despite the passage of the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights in California this year, advocates said many caregivers are still not paid proper wages and benefits. With this settlement, they hope more abused workers will be inspired to come forward and fight for against abuse.

“This is a great victory for them. This is countless hours of unpaid work, that’s finally being acknowledged and being paid back by these employers,” said Mario de Mira, coordinator for the FCC.

“I’m really happy that we were given help. I’m really happy that we were given what we deserve,” Bonifacio said.

One of the Filipino-owned carehomes involved in this settlement has already been closed by its owners. Balitang America is still trying to get their side of the story.

Caregivers who feel they are not paid proper wages and benefits, may contact the FCC for help at (415) 333-6267.