El Paso housekeepers sue ex-employers for fair wages

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The Texas Civil Rights Project
El Paso housekeepers sue ex-employers

KVIA News

By ABC-7 Reporter Daniel Marin

El Paso, Texas – So many of them begin their days near the bridges and bus stops. Their commutes, taking them to Sun City neighborhoods and the homes of El Pasoans who can afford an extra set of hands to keep a house clean.

Elvira Corral Olivares used to count herself among El Paso’s domestic workers. She says she worked for her employer for 10 years. Olivares says she cleaned, washed, ironed and cooked Mondays through Saturdays for $150 dollars a week.

Olivares answers questions at PCRP office
KVIA News: View Video

When asked why she worked for so long for little, she told ABC-7 she didn’t know her rights. But, she does now through the help of the Paso Del Norte Civil Rights Project. The advocacy group educates women in similar situations.

And now, the Civil Rights Project has filed lawsuits on behalf of Olivares and another local domestic worker, Rosa Pena Perez. The women are looking for a combined $60,000 in unpaid and underpaid wages, saying they were paid less than the minimum wage of $7.25. Olivares also claims she was unfairly fired when she told her employer she was pregnant.

A Juarez resident, Olivares did not wish to answer whether she worked in El Paso illegally, saying it doesn’t matter. She added an honest day’s work should be paid honestly.

"It shows a lack of respect for the work that I did," Olivares said in Spanish.

By law, employers should report what they are paying domestic employees. The Texas Workforce Commission says if the wages amount to more than $1,000 a quarter, those employers also have to deduct and pay taxes.

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