Carmen had been employed at a restaurant in San Francisco during her pregnancy, where she was the only dishwasher, with additional cooking responsibilities. Carmen was denied breaks during her entire shift, while being paid below minimum wage. In addition to these violations, her employers stole $100 out of every paycheck to be included in the restaurant’s money-pool, or tanda. The tanda, a common practice in some South- and Central-American settings, worked as a rotating system of payment, where a different employee would receive the full collective tanda each month. By the time Carmen quit her job, her employers had stolen $1,300 from her for the tanda, which they refused to return even though the tanda had not yet reached her in the rotation. Carmen and her husband had already been facing financial hardships, and these abuses only contributed to the challenges they faced, such as housing insecurity, having to do laundry by hand at home, supporting their 7-year old son while going through a second pregnancy, and even food insecurity. Through La Raza’s representation, Carmen was able to claim a total of $6,300 from her employers in April of this year, which she has been receiving in monthly installments of $500.
In June, Carmen gave birth to her baby daughter Luciana in a hospital where she received treatment for symptoms of a complicated birth. Without the legal resources made available through La Raza Centro Legal, Carmen may have remained just a victim of her employer’s abuses, but instead won damages for the mistreatment she suffered, and was able to have a healthy birth in facilities that kept her and her baby safe. Carmen was also very happy to share that she now easily affords public transportation and doesn’t have to walk everywhere, is able to go to Laundromat now instead of washing by hand, has a new phone for her and her husband, and hunger is no longer an issue in her family.