Workforce Commission Grants Worker Thousands in Lost Wages

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ALAMO – The Texas Workforce Commission granted a worker more than $4,000 in lost wages.

Marcelino Cajeo said, “I would work from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. every day.” But he noticed the dollars earned didn’t add up.

“It's not something I talk about,” he told CHANNEL 5 NEWS. “But now that the kids went back to school, I wasn't able to buy backpacks, notebooks. I had the blessing that the people that live next door gave me notebooks, colors, and pencils, because they are aware of my situation."

Cajeo said he was ashamed. “I’m a grown person. And I’m supposed to be the provider, but sometimes you're stuck and don't know what to do,” he explained.

Cajeo eventually got help from Fuerza del Valle, an organization advocating for workers’ rights. The nonprofit assists victims of wage theft.

Link: Fuerza del Valle Workers Center

The Fuerza del Valle workers’ center coordinator, Hector Guzman Lopez, said they work close to 300 cases of abuse each year. "Not all of them are unpaid labor, but the vast majority them are,” he told us.

Wage theft can include being paid less than minimum wage, not getting overtime pay or simply not getting paid at all. Lopez said, "We have weekly know-your-rights classes for workers to come get a little bit of orientation, document the case and see what can be done with that situation. Our advice to people is to write down everything."

Link: Fuerza del Valle Workers Center Wage Theft Face Sheet (PDF)

Cajeo filed a complaint with the Texas Workforce Commission, which led to the recovery of lost wages.

Cajero said he'll keep all his documents from now on to make sure he gets a valid check for his work. 

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