By Winifred Kao, Litigation Director & Workers' Rights Senior Staff Attorney
Pedro came to the U.S. seeking work to support his family in the Philippines. As a recent immigrant, he had difficulty finding good-paying work. He got a job as a caregiver at a facility where he slept on the floor and worked around the clock attending to elderly and disabled residents. Despite the important caretaking work he performed and his long work hours, he was paid only $1,500 a month.
Unaware of his rights, Pedro didn't realize he was being exploited. He kept his head down and kept working. He also stayed quiet because his employer had fraudulently promised to submit an immigration petition for him to remain lawfully in the U.S.
But when Pedro saw elderly patients being abused and beaten, he decided he could not stay silent any longer. After he reported the elder abuse and wage violations, his employer retaliated by firing him. She also threatened to report him to immigration authorities and to withdraw the immigration petition.
Because of Pedro's courage in coming forward, the elder abuse stopped and the facility was eventually shut down. Advancing Justice - ALC's Workers' Rights and Immigrant Rights teams helped Pedro win wage and hour claims against the employer and also petitioned for a U Visa based on his employer's abuses against him. Following a three-year wait, Pedro's U Visa was finally granted in 2016, along with derivative visas for his wife and son. After more than 10 long years apart during which they were only able to see each other via Skype, Pedro and his family were finally reunited earlier this year.
On the 1st and 3rd Thursdays of every month, our Workers' Rights program hosts a free clinic that addresses employment issues ranging from wage and hour recovery to wrongful termination. Our Immigrant Rights program holds clinics on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays and focuses on challenging the detention and deportation of immigrants with criminal convictions.