USDOL steps in and orders Rep. Vui to pay a former employee
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The US Department of Labor (USDOL) has issued a ruling in the matter between Filipino overstayer Joselyn M. Intila and her former sponsor/employer Rep. Vui Florence Saulo, owner of FSA Land Development which operates Siniva & Armelia's Sewing Shop where Intila was employed.
Intila is considered an overstayer, as her immigration ID expired May 31, 2018
The USDOL has ordered Vui to pay the amount she owes to Intila and a Samoa News source has confirmed that a payment was made to Intila last week, pursuant to the USDOL ruling.
The source did not offer further details.
Samoa News understands Intila received $617.40 from Vui for money she didn’t receive in her last paycheck, which covered June 2-15, 2018.
Responding to Samoa News inquiries, a USDOL spokesperson explained that the matter deals with “an employee who didn't receive her last paycheck, in violation of the [federal] Fair Labor Standards Act. Following an investigation, the employer agreed to pay the outstanding wages. The worker received her unpaid wages on July 27.”
“This case did not involve litigation and did not result in civil money penalties,” said a USDOL spokesperson yesterday morning when asked if any penalties were imposed on the employer.
The spokesperson pointed out that the USDOL’s Wage Hour Division (WHD) conducts investigations based on a number of reasons, all having to do with enforcement of labor laws and assuring an employer's compliance.
Additionally, the WHD does not typically disclose the reason for an investigation, as many are initiated by complaints.
It’s not clear why Intila was still employed by Vui between June 2-15, 2018 as her immigration ID expired May 31, 2018.
Samoa News was able to obtain letters regarding the matter from both Intila and her former sponsor and employer, along with the response from the USDOL through email.
After reviewing all the letters, it appears that after Intila’s immigration ID expired on May 31, she tendered to Vui her resignation letter, dated June 4, 2018. Her return airfare ticket to the Philippines was already paid, and she had to depart American Samoa on Saturday, June 9, 2018.
Samoa News has a copy of Intila’s return airfare ticket along with a copy of her resignation letter.
Samoa News was also able to obtain a copy of Vui’s response to Intila via her Facebook messenger, asking Intila to come back and work for her.
In her resignation letter, Intila told Vui her resignation is due to an "occurrence of events", including the passing of her father and the need for her to tend to her daughter and mother.
She thanked Vui for the opportunity to work and the "kindness you have shown" for the past 9 years.
Below is the Facebook messenger from Vui to Intila:
“If ever you change your mind not to go or maybe later like August please let me know. I am so sad for you leaving. You will not pay anymore rent. Please, please Joselyn let me know. Will go to Tradewinds on weekend and have fun. Maybe you’ll meet someone. I’ll try to look for someone nice gentleman to love you and make you happy. So if we go will meet many handsome guys and you’re beautiful and smart. Please let me know. I need to find some more seamstress before you go please. Give me a chance. I don’t want to lose my customers. Joselyn I’ve been so good to you all these years. Please don’t go. Have sweet dreams and love you.”
While Intila was still employed between June 2-15, Vui moved to terminate her sponsorship.
In her first letter to the Chairperson of the Immigration Board, Fanene Edda Wyberski, dated June 6, 2018, Vui informed Fanene about Intila’s immigration status, her violation of immigration laws, and a request to deny her re-entry to American Samoa for ten years.
In her second letter, dated June 11, 2018 to the Chief Immigration Officer, Vui notified Peseta about Intila’s illegal immigration status, and her willingness to terminate her sponsorship of her. Vui provided copies of her two letters to Samoa News, asking that both of her letters be published.
Intila on the other hand was able to respond to her former sponsor’s letter, via a letter to Fanene and all members of the Immigration Board, telling them her side of the story. However, the Board did not consider her letter, but went ahead and ordered her to leave American Samoa within 10 days.
(For more information about the FLSA and other laws enforced by the Wage and Hour Division, the public can contact the Division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information is also available at https://www.dol.gov/whd.)
Samoa News Reporter Fili Sagapolutele contributed to this story.