ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A group of Albuquerque house cleaners is fighting for their wages after they said the company they work for shorted them on their pay for years.
Eight former and current employees of the Cleaning Authority in Albuquerque said they are victims of wage theft and that the house cleaning company did not pay them for time worked and overtime.
“They were doing work for 35 or 40 hours and only being paid 30 hours,” Stephanie Welch with the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty said.
They submitted wage claims Monday to the U.S. Department of Labor to investigate their case and recover wages owed. Advocates said this is not an isolated incident.
“There are a lot of businesses that have this type of business model,” Marian Mendez-Cera with El Centro de Igualdad y Derechos said.
Welch said there is a vast population of domestic workers in the state, including some 60,000 home caregivers who could be victims of wage theft.
“It is difficult to estimate better than that because it is so many different types of work, and they are not in a visible public place,” Welch said. “They are working out of peoples’ homes.”
Advocates said immigration status or a language barrier may be something employers take advantage of.
“I come from an immigrant family,” Mendez-Cera said. “My family has experienced wage exploitation at work. It was visible with my father growing up and people of color.”
Welch said for decades, domestic workers were excluded from state law for the minimum wage protections all other workers got.
In March, the New Mexico House of Representatives passed a bill to change that ensuring that domestic workers are protected.
“The word has not necessarily gotten out to a lot of workers that have those rights,” Welch said.
Now, advocates are hopeful more workers will come forward and submit claims.
Welch said the cleaning authority is a locally-owned franchise. She estimates they have 35 to 40 employees at their location near I-25 and Candelaria.
The Cleaning Authority of Albuquerque released the following statement:
As a local, independently owned and operated business, The Cleaning Authority of Albuquerque supports fair wages for all workers. We do our due diligence to ensure our employees are properly compensated for their time. We take all complaints seriously and will work quickly to identify and rectify, if any, payroll mistakes. We intend to cooperate fully with the U.S. Department of Labor in their investigation of these accusations.