Judge orders business owner to pay back wages to undocumented worker
The owner of a Rifle cleaning company must pay a former employee nearly $4,000 for three months in back wages.Nancy Myer of Rifle, owner of Busy Bee Cleaning in Rifle, failed to appear in court Wednesday. Garfield County Judge Paul Metzger issued a bench warrant for Myer. A bench warrant gives officers the right to arrest Myer if they pull her over, but they will not go to her house for the arrest.Myer was being sued by Nicolasa, a former employee, for failing to pay her for three months, or $3,874.60 in back wages. The Post Independent is withholding Nicolasa’s last name to protect her identity.All employees, including undocumented workers such as Nicolasa, are entitled to the wages they earn, but thousands of undocumented employees walk away from jobs they’ve worked at for months without receiving a dime.In most cases, the undocumented employees will not take their employers to court for fear of being deported.However, according to U.S. labor laws, undocumented persons have a right to get paid, and when they bring employers to court, their citizenship status is irrelevant, said Mike McArdle, director of labor for the Division of Labor and Employment. Myer can be arrested if she does not show up in court at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 29. At that time, Myer must pay, or make a plan to pay, the $3,874.60 to Nicolasa, or Myer will be jailed.Myer said she didn’t show up for court because she didn’t receive notice concerning the court date until Monday afternoon, two days before the court proceeding. Myer must pay a $1,000 fine for not showing up in court as well as find a way to pay the $3,874.60, according to the court.”She’ll never get paid, so I’m not even worried about it,” Myer said in a phone interview. “Nothing she says is true.”Myer didn’t deny that Nicolasa worked for her but said Nicolasa lied on her time card, recording hours that she did not work, Myer said.Myer and other companies that don’t pay undocumented workers are known as predator employers, said Don Kaufman, the attorney representing Nicolasa.”Predator employers choose the weakest link in the chain, chew them up and spit them out and then move on through the unlimited supply of undocumented employees,” Kaufman said.An undocumented citizen who files a complaint against an employer can go to court without fear of deportation because the court only looks at the case at hand, Kaufman said.Myer recently declared bankruptcy but still has to pay the $3,874.60, Kaufman said. When defendants claim bankruptcy, the court requires them to submit a form stating their assets, Kaufman said.Myer replied to the court by saying she doesn’t own anything and does not have a bank account, Kaufman said.”You see this all over the place,” Kaufman said. “Finally they’re realizing that they don’t have to be afraid to go after employers and fight for their rights.”Contact Ivy Vogel: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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