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Filipino caregivers in California join campaign vs. workplace retaliation

Rommel Conclara | TFC News California

Posted at Mar 13 2023 04:41 PM

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Filipino caregivers in California have joined a campaign against rights violations in their workplaces.

The "Our Voice, Our Jobs" by the California Coalition for Worker Power seeks to help caregivers in organizing against their employers who retaliated for speaking up over rights violations.

This could be manifested through wage theft, sexual harassment, or other forms of abuse and exploitation.

"Elena" was one of those who shared her experience when her employer retaliated. She said she was successful in reporting her employer to the Labor department for unpaid wages.

"While we wait for the results or the judgment, the care home owner said a lot of bad things about me," she said. "A lot of below-the-belt things to my co-workers before. So it hurts my feelings to hear that."

"Cora," on the other hand, was promised an eight-hour shift, overtime pay, and medical insurance.

"They told us, employees, right away that if you do something bad they will take our passports," she said. "So there’s the threat and that’s what scared us. There’s nothing we can do so we just went with it."

Their experiences are included in a recent report on how California can initiate reforms to dismantle workplace inequality.

The said report showed 38 percent of California workers have experienced a workplace violation.

Only 10% of those in the study reported their case to a government agency, and almost half of them did not file a report.

The report added that the majority of those who filed a report experienced employer retaliation.

Some 51 percent of working Californians also said employer retaliation would influence their decision on whether or not to report a labor violation in the future.

"Elena" and "Cora" said they will continue to reach out to other caregivers. They vowed to educate them about workers' rights in California.

"Everyone is equal in the eyes of the law," Cora said, "whether you’re undocumented, you have papers, or no parents. Everyone working is the same."

The report further cited a survey that showed 81 percent of working Californians, regardless of political party affiliation, support the adoption of laws to protect workers from unfair and arbitrary firings.