Imagine working for around minimum wage as a cleaning lady and being forced to sign a 5-page contract that has a non-solication and non-disclosure agreement that you do not understand because you don’t speak English. Imagine how scary in would be when years after you sign that contact, you get sued for over $50,000 plus attorney fees for violating the contract by working for another cleaning service. As someone making minimum wage, how can you afford a lawyer?
This was the situation when, earlier this year, 3 cleaning ladies came to us desperate for help. They got sued in Kane County by their prior employer for over $50,000 each for violating a non-solication and non-disclosure agreement for allegedly cleaning the homes of their prior clients. The large cleaning service they previously worked for made them sign a long contract that was written in English, even though most of them did not even speak English!
We were disgusted by the case so we took it on a pro-bono basis where we did not charge our clients for representing them. After investigating the case, we learned that the employer was violating the law by illegally deducting the cost of cleaning supplies (like a $1 for using a rag, really???) from their wages and prepared class action counterclaims. After doing this, the cleaning service agreed to dismiss its claims with prejudice and without our clients paying anything or agreeing to stop working. It was a complete victory for our clients.
Thalia Pacheco and David Fish represented the workers in this dispute.