For about six months last year, four workers put in hundreds of hours at a Fair Haven fiberglass company and received not a dime in wages, according to a freshly filed federal lawsuit.
The lawsuit, filed Thursday by Yale law students, alleges that H&L Plastics cheated four workers out of tens of thousands of dollars in wages. Each of the four workers labored for between five and 17 weeks, and received no pay whatsoever, the lawsuit alleges. Click here to read the complaint.
H&L Plastics could not be reached for comment.
According to the Yale law students, the case is one example of an alarming amount of wage theft in New Haven, which hits low-wage workers, particularly immigrants, the hardest.
According to the complaint:
For most of the past year, four workers comprised the entire workforce at H&L Plastics: Fredy Galvez and Welser Morales of Hamden and Edgar Sandoval and Antonio Rodriguez of New Haven. They earned between $9 and $14 per hour making fiberglass parts for a variety of clients, including CT Transit and the Waterbury water sanitation plant. They made car stereo speaker components and worked on bodies for NASCAR race cars.
Through the summer and fall of 2012, the owner of H&L Plastics repeatedly gave his four workers bad checks, drawn from an empty bank account. When confronted, he promised to pay them, but instead continued to cheat them. Eventually, in September, he stopped even handing out checks.
H&L Plastics had also failed to pay workers in 2010, but in that case eventually handed over the back wages.
The workers last year joined Unidad Latina en Accion, a local immigrant advocacy organization, and began demanding payment for weeks of unpaid work.
“My employer didn’t care. After months of not getting paid, I almost got evicted from my apartment, and all he did was to promise to pay and not follow through. Now, I’m just trying to get back what I’m owed,” Sandoval said in a press release.