Client Story: Speaking Up About Employment Abuse
Ms. Pui Ling Wong thought she had to stay silent about the abuse she was facing at work. Her employer at the garment factory where she prepared and packaged clothing for shipping routinely failed to pay workers required minimum and overtime wages to which they were entitled. Factory working conditions were often detrimental to workers’ health, and they were denied rest breaks and forced to work through lunch periods without proper compensation.
Although Ms. Wong worked six days a week, often putting in 10 or 11 hours each day, her employer prohibited her from recording extra hours on her time cards and forbade her from reporting any work she did on weekends—forcing her to sign time-cards that grossly underrepresented her work. Ms. Wong wanted to complain, but was terrified of losing her job. She knew she would face immediate retaliation from her boss.
Everything changed the day Ms. Wong picked up a pamphlet from NLSLA, written in her native Chinese, with information about the organization’s Workers’ Rights Clinic. Ms. Wong attended the clinic, where NLSLA staff worked with her to gather evidence documenting the abuse. This evidence proved critical in obtaining a favorable judgment against Ms. Wong’s employer and securing a settlement recovering all her unpaid wages.
“I am so grateful to NLSLA for working with me on this case.” Ms. Wong said. “Because my English is not that good, they had translators at every meeting and we worked hard accomplishing this. I wasn’t charged a dime, and received so much help from beginning to end. After my case was closed, I wanted to help other people who might be in my situation, especially Chinese immigrants like myself.”