Overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Maria Elena Bolocon came to the United States from Italy on September 2015 on a B1 Business visa as the domestic employee of Aldo and Aurora Sermoneta, non-immigrant owners of the Sermoneta Gloves Shop in the Upper East Side in New York.
The Sermonetas supposedly promised Bolocan a weekly pay with an hourly rate of USD15 (PHP716) and overtime pay rate after 40 hours of work. She would also get the weekends off. Her contract stated normal work hours from Monday to Friday, 8a.m. to 6p.m., with two-hour lunch breaks.
However, Bolocan claimed at her first three days of her employment involved her working from 4a.m. to 11p.m. She even worked during lunch breaks. She tried to go with the flow.
A week later, the Sermonetas told Bolocan they would pay her USD1,800 (PHP85,880) a month or USD450 (PHP21,470) a week, a much-lower rate than what she was initially promised.
A month later, the Sermonetas paid Bolocan USD1,256 (PHP59,925) after a month of work, her supposed net wages after income taxes were withheld, citing a new “federal law.”
Bolocan also claimed the Sermonetas threatened to deport her or cancel her visa sponsorship if she questioned her wages.
She escaped from her employers on October and filed a lawsuit against them with the help of Philippine Forum, an organization for Filipinos in New York. Her lawyer Felix Vinluan said that what the Sermonetas did was human trafficking and forced labor. They also violated the New York Labor Law in terms of non-payment of the minimum wages.
The court has summoned the Sermonetas and they were given 60 days to respond to the lawsuit. Bolocon is seeking at least USD75,000 (PHP3.6 million) of unpaid wages and unpaid overtime among other labor law violations.
Watch it below video credit to TFCBalitangAmerica