Filipina housekeeper seeks $400,000 in unpaid wages from employers

By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Oct. 24, 2014

NEW YORK – Fifty-year-old Filipina housekeeper Gloria Lontok is suing her employers for unpaid overtime work and unpaid vacation days worth nearly $400,000 dollars.

After working for her employers Patti and Mark Renton in Hong Kong for five years, the family, together with Lontok, moved to the U.S. in September 2010.

Lontok claims she came to the U.S. under a B1/B2 visitor’s visa and continued to work for the Rentons as a housekeeper with a monthly salary of $1,500 dollars. In 2011, Lontok entered into a contractual agreement with the Rentons that set her salary to $2,187.50 dollars a month or $26,250 dollars a month annually.

The signed agreement stated that Lontok would be entitled to two to three weeks paid vacation, but that allegedly did not happen, according to a complaint Lontok filed at the Supreme Court of the Queens County last month.

Lontok also claims that she was allegedly forced to work more than 40 hours and up to 90 hours a week when the Rentons have parties or gatherings, without overtime pay.

“In this case, she was paid what she was promised, but it was only up to a certain hours, day or week,” said Spray Kichloo, of Gordon and Gordon Law.

But the hardest part, according to Lontok, was being away from her family. She even missed her own son’s funeral because of a visa mix up.

“Gusto kung umuwi,” said Lontok. “Wala akong magawa, kasi ang sabi niya sa akin, anytime puwede niya akong pasakayin sa eroplano, kaya lang hindi niya magagarantiya na makabalik ako. Siyempre mabigat sa akin yun, pero ang totoo pala nalaman ko na pwede akong lumabas dahil may visa ako. February pa ang tapos ng Visa ko, January namatay yung anak ko.”

Lontok is praying to get paid what she says her employers owe her, for allegedly violating New York labor laws and the Local Domestic Worker’s Bill of Rights.

The Rentons declined ABS-CBN News request for an interview at this time.

In an e-mail to Balitang America, Renton’s legal counsel Kevin Doherty said: “Ms. Lontok was a long time employee of Patti Renton and received appropriate compensation, time off and paid vacation. While she left Patti’s employ of her own volition and without explanation, Patti was always open to discussing any concerns.”

Meantime, Kichloo says they are still waiting for the Rentons’ response to the complaint.

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  • kikay Pang0
    25 October 2014 at 3:12 am - Reply

    Either sides are not credible … even the report of Tagala.