Hotel Housekeepers Finally Win Hard-earned Wages

Ana and Marina (not their real names) worked cleaning a motel in North Portland for many years. For much of their time there, they earned minimum wage for their work cleaning guest rooms. As part of their duties, they were also expected to do the motel laundry. They didn't receive an hourly wage for that work, but rather a lump sum payment with every paycheck that did not even approach minimum wage. They did not receive overtime pay, though they regularly worked 7 days a week. Their employer tried to disguise its wrongdoing by paying only some of their hours on their paycheck, and the rest in cash or personal checks, often accompanied by an accounting of sorts on a small slip of paper that only further confused the workers.

After receiving complaints, the US Department of Labor investigated the motel for wage and hour violations in 2013. The motel owners pressured Ana and Marina to lie to the investigators about the hours they worked. The DOL ultimately approved a small settlement for a short time period of federal violations, but did not address the systemic problems with the motel's pay practices. The owners were undeterred, and did not improve the motel's pay practices going forward.

When Ana and Marina finally left their jobs at the motel, after a series of conflicts and escalating threats by the owners, they came to NWJP looking for help, arriving with a briefcase full of records dating back to 2008. After more than a year of litigation in federal court, NWJP was able to negotiate a settlement with the motel for $60,000. Both clients were pleased to have the motel make some amends for the many years in which they were underpaid and overworked.