On February 21, the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs (WLCCRUA) and the law firm of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, jointly filed a federal lawsuit in Maryland on behalf of four "immigrant" workers, Giovanni "Henry" Montoya, Alexander Figueroa, Manuel Carrera and Ivan Aplicano, alleging that their former employer, Thurmont, MD-based (in Frederick County) SCCP Painting Contractors Inc. (John Sulmonte, owner), cheated them out of wages they'd earned painting luxury condo complexes in Maryland and Washington, DC. Castaneda identified Aplicano as a 34-year-old Honduran, and Carrera as a 49-year-old Mexican.
Sulmonte said yesterday that he was unaware of the lawsuit or of the allegations that people who worked for him were not paid for their labor.The plaintiffs allege, variously, that the defendant cheated them out of some pay checks in their entirety (Montoya, Figueroa, Carrera and Aplicano); cheated them out of overtime (again, all four); forced them to work a certain number of hoursÂ "off-the-clock" without pay (Figueroa); "and deducted amounts from certain pay checks for the stated purpose of tax withholding (but on information and belief not for that purpose at all" (Carrera).
"I don't know anything about it," Sulmonte said, adding that the workers and their attorneys were welcome to call him.
Castaneda reports that WLCCRUA attorney Laura E. Varela said that the plaintiffs' lawyers seek certification of the action as a class action suit, because that would permit them to subpoena the records of all SCCP employees from the past three years, which she said totaled over 500, all of them Hispanic "immigrants."
"They bring in groups of workers for large jobs and, when they're done, they fire them," Varela said. Virtually all of the workers are Latino immigrants, she said, and many are day laborers.That they are.
Varela and Anne E. Langford, a lawyer with the firm that collaborated in filing the lawsuit, declined to say whether Aplicano or any of the other three named plaintiffs are in the country without proper documentation.
Varela said the workers' immigration status is irrelevant to the lawsuit: "They're entitled to their wages for their labor."
Give Castaneda credit for asking; many PC reporters would never have considered doing so. (However, either Castaneda was remiss in not reporting that Varela is the director of the WLCCRUA's pro-illegal immigrant, "Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project,", or his editor did him dirty by cutting the reference. The SPLC lists WLCCRUA as a "social justice group." I am not sure as to whether the SPLC refers to Lee Harvey Oswald as a "social justice activist." And yet, if WLCCRUA can make life difficult for crooked employers, its volunteer attorneys may yet do some good, in spite of themselves.)
The charges vaguely recall what VDARE.com's Steve Sailer has reported regarding the abuse by California corporate farmers of non-Spanish-speaking Mexican Indians the farmers fire the illegal pickers after a brief, low-wage employment, constantly turning over the work crews, many of whom remain in the country, to live off the generosity of America's citizen-taxpayers. As Sailer has repeatedly observed, thus do criminal employers privatize profits, while socializing costs.
Of course, we don't know whether SCCP is guilty. Castaneda does, however, recount the cases of a number of D.C.-area employers who have been found guilty of cheating "immigrant laborers," and been forced to pay them what they owed them, including Francisco Sandoval, another subcontractor working on a luxury condo development, who cheated workers out of $21,000. Leoncio Vite had been promised a lousy ten bucks an hour for laying fiber optic cables by Mega Telecommunications of Virginia Beach, which then proceeded to cheat him out of 113 hours'Â pay.
Legally, these cases have a certain ambivalence. Traditionally, someone who was here illegally didn't have the right to sue anyone, and in the countries that illegal immigrants leave to come here, that is still the case. (Just try sneaking into Mexico, and suing anyone!) However, American courts have been permitting such suits for a number of years. Since so many illegal immigrants practice insurance fraud and other shakedowns, overall, the suits have cost American citizens billions of dollars. And between the fraudulent and the frivolous suits, immigrants and their children comprise the most litigation-happy group in America. But if illegals are going to be permitted to sue any and everyone, at least let them sue crooked employers. The more common such suits become, the less incentive employers will have to break the law.
In a May 26, 2005, Washington Post story, reporter Nikita Stewart quoted Jayesh Rathod, a staff attorney for Casa de Maryland, a nonprofit that helps about 300 immigrants per year recoup unpaid wages, "It's an epidemic, the nonpayment of wages. People come to us every day."
Legal and political issues aside, morally, no one has the right to hire someone, and then cheat him out of his pay.