WASHINGTON — A Brooklyn garment worker is back on the job after a judge ordered her reinstated in the long-simmering case against her employer, Danmar Finishing Corp.
Maria Arriaga has been at the center of a labor dispute at Danmar in which the U.S. Department of Labor in May charged the company with failing to pay overtime since 1998. Arriaga said she was fired in April for talking to Labor investigators.
Judge David G. Trager of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York twice this month ordered Danmar to reinstate Arriaga. After the first order "Arriaga was taunted and threatened by other employees and Danmar refused to return her to work," according to a DOL statement. The judge issued his second order Thursday at a hearing attended by more than 40 workers, during which "overwhelming" evidence of retaliation against Arriaga was shown, the DOL said.
Arriaga worked Friday and Saturday, according to Nieves Padilla, an organizer with Make the Road By Walking, a community rights group representing the garment worker. Padilla said Danmar also paid Arriaga $616 for the wages she would have been paid had she been reinstated Aug. 1, per the judge’s first order.
"I spoke to her on Saturday and she said everything’s OK and she’s getting better treatment," Padilla said.
Danmar’s attorney, Randall Bartlett, disputed the DOL account. He said Danmar didn’t refuse the judge’s first order to reinstate Arriaga, but said once she reported to work at Danmar "there was no work for her. There wasn’t an available machine."
The federal back-wage lawsuit against Danmar is still pending. A status hearing on Arriaga’s reinstatement is scheduled for Sept. 9 before Judge Trager.
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