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Workers Charge New Haven Company Underpaid Them

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File photo of a gavel (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

File photo of a gavel (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) _ Four New Haven workers filed a federal lawsuit Thursday alleging a fiberglass manufacturer and its owner cheated them out of wages.

The workers sued H&L Plastics of New Haven and its owner, Charles Bolton. They say each worker received no compensation for five to 17 weeks of work, or about $20,000 altogether.

With statutory penalties, the workers say they may be entitled to more than $55,000 in damages.

The workers, Fredy Galvez and Welser Morales of Hamden and Edgar Sandoval and Antonio Rodriguez of New Haven, produced fiberglass parts for a range of industries, including for Connecticut Transit and local water sanitation plants.

The workers say Bolton routinely paid them last year with checks that drew on an empty bank account and later stopped even pretending to pay them.

Telephone messages left Thursday for Bolton were not returned.

The four workers said they had been the entire workforce for the company for much of the past year.

The workers say when they confronted Bolton, he promised to repay them for their work but failed to do so.

“After months of not getting paid, I almost got evicted from my apartment, and all he did was to promise to pay and not follow through. Now, I’m just trying to get back what I’m owed,” Sandoval said in a statement announcing the lawsuit.

This year, the workers joined with Unidad Latina en Accin, a grassroots immigrant and worker justice organization in New Haven.

“This case is one example of hundreds of cases that we see in New Haven. Employers are profiting off the backs of workers, not paying them even minimum wage, and stealing their pay,” said ULA member John Jairo Lugo.

“This is an outrage. It’s time for the community to speak up.”

The lawsuit alleges Bolton denied the workers wages in violation of federal and state laws and fraudulently represented that he would pay them for each week’s work.

The workers are represented by students in the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic of the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization at Yale Law School.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)    

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