Workers sue recruiting firm, client over wages, overtime

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Two women filed a class action lawsuit on Tuesday against an Elmhurst-based recruitment agency and the company they were assigned to, alleging their wages were cut without notice and they were not paid for overtime.

The women worked for Superior Staffing, a company with offices in Chicago that assigns employees temporary positions in manufacturing jobs, and were assigned to Fareva Morton Grove, a cosmetics manufacturing company.

Patricia Martinez of Bridgeport and Ana Diaz Rivas of Prospect Heights said their salaries were cut in November 2020, according to the lawsuit.

Patricia Martinez, former temp at Superior Staffing.

“I was making $13.50 before they cut my pay to $12. That $1.50 is the money I need for gas,” Martinez said at a press conference on Tuesday. .

She tried to complain but was rebuffed by the cosmetics company.

“They told me that I had no right to complain because I don’t work for the company, that I am a temporary worker, even though I worked there for more than a year and a half. “

She continued to work because it was the peak of the pandemic and she feared she wouldn’t find work elsewhere.

“I had to work like a robot to work at the pace they wanted,” she said.

Superior Staffing and Fareva did not respond to requests for comment.

The women’s lawsuit, which could cover up to 100 people, also alleges that during their employment with the company, they were repeatedly assigned, but Fareva turned them down and Superior did not pay them for their work. time. Under Illinois’ day and temporary labor services law, they should have been paid for four hours of work, according to the lawsuit.

Ana Diaz Rivas, former temp at Superior Staffing.  Diaz-Rivas said she was not given breaks while on the job and her salary was cut without notice.

Ana Diaz Rivas, former temp at Superior Staffing.

Mother of a 3-year-old boy with Down’s syndrome, Diaz Rivas had to pay a nanny when she went to work. On the days she was turned away, she still had to pay the nanny.

“I told them they had to let me know in advance if they didn’t need me to come in and they ignored me. Paying the babysitter is not an expense I can afford if she won’t let me work.

Raise the Floor Alliance, a coalition of labor rights groups, represents the plaintiffs in this case. Staff attorney Mark Birhanu said Martinez and Diaz Rivas left the company in June 2021.

“These are very vulnerable workers. Imagine earning minimum wage and standing up to your employer. It takes a lot. So Patricia Martinez and Ana Diaz Rivas stand up on behalf of other workers,” Birhanu said.

Birhanu said these types of violations of temporary workers’ rights are common, and third-party companies like Fareva are often not held accountable. He said the lawsuit was filed under the Labor Services Act in an attempt to hold Fareva “jointly and severally liable.”

What’s at stake ultimately, he said, is whether those protections for workers have teeth.

Michael Loria is a reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times via Report for Americaa non-profit journalism program that aims to strengthen the newspaper’s coverage of communities on the South and West Sides.

Former Superior Staffing temps Patricia Martinez (in blue) and Raise the Floor Alliance attorney Mark Birhanu (right) attend a news conference in the Little Village neighborhood where former Superior Staffing temps and Birhanu announced that they have filed a class action lawsuit against the company for alleged wage theft and wage cuts.

Patricia Martinez, middle, a former temp worker at Superior Staffing, and Mark Birhanu (right), staff attorney at Raise the Floor Alliance, attend a press conference Tuesday in the Little Village neighborhood.

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