(CBS SF) — Workers who helped restore properties after the Tubbs Fire in October are suing their employers for allegedly cheating them of regular and overtime pay and verbally abusing them.
The class action lawsuit filed March 23 in Sonoma County Superior Court names two out-of-state companies, Southern Response Services based in Satsuma, Alabama and Interstate Restoration LLC based in Ft. Worth, Texas.
Spokespersons for the companies said late this week they would not comment until they have received and reviewed the 31-page civil complaint filed by Villegas Carrera LLP of San Francisco.
Attorney Karen Carrera said more than 100 workers gathered at parking lots in Sonoma and Napa counties and were taken in vans to clean and restore fire-damaged properties.
The workers were cheated of half their pay and their employers ‘made up’ the hours they had worked to avoid paying overtime, according to the suit.
“There was no time clock, so the defendants entered whatever time they wanted for the workers,” Carrera said.
The workers were paid with credit cards that cost $3 to use instead of a bank card, and some of the workers also lost their homes in the fire, according to the complaint.
Managers and supervisors mistreated and ridiculed workers, harassed them, treated them without respect or dignity and some referred to them as ‘wetbacks,’ according to the complaint.
“The refusal to comply with California’s basic worker protections by two out-of-state companies is particularly egregious and a problem faced by any low-wage workers in the Bay Area and California,” Carrera said in a news release.
The class action suit alleging unfair business practices was brought on behalf of thousands of California workers under the state’s labor and business and practices codes, Carrera said.
The suit seeks recovery of unpaid wages, penalties and interest and injunctive relief to force the out-of-state companies to comply with California’s wage and hour laws.
Southern Response Services provides emergency response services to floods, wildfires, oil spills and natural disasters, according to its website.
Interstate Restoration is a national emergency response, restoration and general contractor specializing in the return of compromised commercial property to its pre-flood, fire, smoke or storm condition, according to its website.
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