Paid Sick Leave Story
Maria is a 46 year-old woman with severe diabetes, requiring insulin several times a day. In 2012, she began working for a woman who had a small house-cleaning business. On average, she worked 11 hours a day.
Maria’s 22 year-old daughter, Arlette, started working at the same company so she could “look after her mother.” They were each paid $300 a week—far below minimum wage, let alone overtime. Money was tight.
While they were working, Arlette tried to make sure that her mother ate and took her insulin properly, but it was difficult with their non-stop schedule. Breaks were not permitted. At times, Maria missed taking her insulin all day.
Maria was unable to make regular doctor’s appointments because her employer would not allow her to take time off of work.
When Maria did request time off, her boss would respond angrily, telling her that she was “lazy” and “stupid,” or claiming she just “didn’t want to work.”
On the few occasions when Maria actually did see the doctor, her employer required her to make up the hours she missed immediately after her appointment. They needed the money badly, so Maria agreed.
Over the course of the next two years, Maria’s health declined. Eventually, she was hospitalized with a kidney infection. The day that Maria went into the hospital, their employer visited Arlette’s house, demanding that she cover for Maria while she was hospitalized. Because they needed the money, Arlette agreed. The day after Maria was released from the hospital, she worked an 11-hour day. She had a fever later that night.
Maria and Arlette finally left the company. They are currently attempting to recover their unpaid wages. But there is no way to quantify or recover from the impact of the delay in treatment that Maria experienced or the stress they both endured.