Article 25

Archive for August, 2011|Monthly archive page

Those Clever Immigrants

In Uncategorized on 08/26/2011 at 2:42 pm

Employer screws them, and they fight back

By Jesse Call

Two of the immigrant workers who stood up against threats of termination and deportation at Hamilton Avenue and Sycamore Animal Hospitals are speaking out about how they revealed illegal employment practices in Cincinnati. Their efforts led to the payment of $85,000 in back pay and damages to 21 employees.

Jose Luis Acquilar and Salvador Martinez teamed up to use video to catch their employer taking back overtime pay from its workers.

When the two men took jobs at the animal hospital, they said, they didn’t understand that they would be expected to pay back the overtime pay that they had earned. Yet their employer demanded that portion of their paychecks back, according to Acquilar and Martinez. When they objected, the two men say, the animal hospital claimed that they had agreed to the arrangement when they were hired.

Acquilar says he refused to go along with the demand.

“Its my money,” he says. “I’ve been working for my money.”

Acquilar and Martinez say the animal hospital threatened to terminate their employment if they did not pay back the overtime wages.

The two men complied with the company’s demand but began working to get their money back.

“It’s not like we were trying to get back money that we stole,” Martinez says.

Yet, he says, the animal hospital treated him and the other Hispanic workers that way.

“They used to tell me, ‘You’re illegal,’ ‘You have no rights,’ and things like it,” Acquilar says.

The pair eventually teamed up for a video sting that shocked people across Cincinnati.

The owners of the Hamilton Ave. and Sycamore Animal Hospitals refused to respond to Article 25’s requests for comment. Read the rest of this entry »