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June 20, 2013

Local carnival co. faces suit over low wages

(Continued)

Should the case be accepted by the court as a class action suit, Liss-Riordan said, it will allow one plaintiff — in this case Jorge Pilar Garcia of Mexico — to come forward on behalf of all others who will benefit if the case is won or resolved. In addition, if won or resolved, the defendant must pay the plaintiff’s legal costs, she added.

Interviewed yesterday, Liss-Riordan said many of the workers involved with carnival ride companies like this one are low-wage employees or immigrants who are often afraid to come forward because they need the money and the job, even though it doesn’t pay well. Liss-Riordan said the suit was brought against Fiesta Shows because Garcia worked for that company, which she believes is the largest in New England.

“We’re going after them because this case is pretty outrageous,” Liss-Riordan said. “Do the math: If they’re working seven days a week for 14 hours a day, they’re making $4 an hour. Massachusetts minimum wage is $8 an hour, and that isn’t enough, yet these people are getting half that.”

According to the lawsuit, Garcia is a resident of Mexico who was employed by Fiesta Shows from March 2010 through October 2011. He performed maintenance jobs, put up, took down and ran the rides for the company that works throughout the region, including Massachusetts cities and towns of Lawrence, Beverly, Chelsea and Situate.

Instead of being paid according to the number of hours he worked, as the law requires, Garcia and others like him were paid less than $400 a week, Liss-Riordan said. Neither were Garcia and others paid at the overtime rate of time and half when they worked beyond the 40-hour work week, again as the law requires.

The many immigrant workers hired by Fiesta Shows coming from Mexico need temporary work visas to be employed here in temporary, non-agricultural jobs, and according to the lawsuit, Fiesta Shows had its Mexican workers bear the related expenses, like travel and visa costs.

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