Employers Settle with San Antonio Worker Over Unpaid Wages and Retaliation

Dallas-based Jani-King International, Inc. and Jani-King employers Ramiro and Elizabeth Bernal have settled a lawsuit filed by a San Antonio janitorial worker for violations of federal and state minimum wage laws, overtime laws, and unlawful retaliation.

Represented by Texas RioGrande LegalAid (TRLA) and the Equal Justice Center (EJC), Gabriela Monsivaiz alleged that she was not paid minimum wage and overtime for the janitorial work she performed for Jani-King between 2007 and 2009. The lawsuit, filed in February 2010, also alleged that Monsivaiz was terminated when she asked to be paid properly.

“I am glad I stood up for my rights,” said Monsivaiz, who lives in SanAntonio. “I hope this gives other workers courage to stand up for their rights as well.”

According to the complaint, Jani-King violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Texas Minimum Wage Act, which require that employees be paid at least $7.25 per hour of work. The lawsuit also alleged that the defendants failed to pay Monsivaiz 1.5 times her hourly rate for overtime work and retaliated against her for asserting her rights, in violation of the FLSA. In addition to filing a lawsuit in federal court, Monsivaiz’s attorneys filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board, the federal body that protects workers from employer retaliation when they demand their rights in the workplace.

“Federal law does not just give workers the right to basic protections in the workplace,” said Sarah Donaldson, a TRLA attorney representing Monsivaiz. “The law also gives workers the right to approach employers together and ask for those protections without risking retaliation.”

The settlement came on the heels of International Labor Day, a celebration of the social and economic achievements of the international labor movement. The May 1 holiday has been marked in recent years by marches supporting immigrant workers in cities around the country, including San Antonio.

Monsivaiz was represented by TRLA and EJC as part of a collaboration aimed at helping low-income workers recover unpaid wages. Workers who are interested in learning more about their rights can contact the project at 210-308-6222.

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