Boss Won’t Pay Wages

(WSVN) - You do a day’s work. You get a day’s pay. It’s been that way forever in America, but sometimes, some bosses refuse to pay, even when they can definitely afford to, and it’s why one woman — who is a chef on yachts — had to turn to Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

A lot of people love to cook at home.

Some people cook for a living in a restaurant, and Daniela does her cooking on yachts.

Daniela Lagoa, yacht owner didn’t pay her: “I love to cook. I love sharing the love that I put on the food.”

Recently, the owner of an 80-foot yacht in Fort Lauderdale asked her to be the chef for his family on their 15-day Caribbean cruise.

Daniela Lagoa: “He was supposed to pay me $3,500. Three meals a day and appetizers.”

Daniela said the yacht owner also wanted her to be a maid and clean up the rooms, which she doesn’t normally do, but she said yes because she needs money for a special reason.

Daniela Lagoa: “I have a 27-year-old daughter that has a kidney failure. She’s in dialysis for two years. We are a match, and now, I need to give her one of my kidneys.”

The $3,500 Daniela would get from the job would help pay her expenses to New Orleans, where the transplant will take place.

Daniela Lagoa: “I’m going to save my daughter’s life. Yes, I am.”

Daniela set sail on the yacht. She says her meals were a hit with the owner’s family.

Daniela Lagoa: “Oh, delighted! They were delighted. Everything that the kids would ask me for, I would make them, and they were amazed.”

Daniela says she was also amazed by the terrible way she was treated.

Daniela Lagoa: “This experience? The worst. He treated me as a slave, as a servant.”

Daniela says even though there was a spare room, she was told she had to sleep in this closet.

Daniela Lagoa: “How do you sleep in a closet? Sideways?”

Daniela has a bad back and complained. The response? “Then, sleep on the deck.”

Daniela Lagoa: “In the rain? No, I’m sorry. You don’t even put your dog to sleep in the rain.”

After six days in the closet, Daniela told the owner she had enough and was going home.

He refused to pay her the $1,500 for the days she had worked, part of the money she needs for her daughter’s transplant.

Daniela Lagoa: “I need the money for this trip.”

Well Howard, the boat owner refused to pay Daniela because she left before they finished their trip. Does he owe her that money?

Howard Finkelstein, 7 News Legal Expert: “Whether Daniela worked one day or the entire 15 days, she gets paid for the time that she worked. The law calls it ‘quantum meruit,’ meaning reasonable pay for your service, so no matter what job you have, your boss has to pay you for the hours or days you worked.”

I spoke to Felipe Barrosa — who lives in Brazil — and says he is the owner of the Lucila III.

He told me he would not pay Daniela the $1,500 because she left the trip in the middle with no notice.

In fact, he said, “I think she should pay me a penalty for leaving before we finished.”

As for the space where she slept, Barrosa said, “She did not sleep in a closet. That it’s a crew room where other people who work for me sleep.”

Howard Finkelstein: “If your former boss refuses to pay you, file a complaint with your county. Also file with the federal wage and hour division. If you win, in some cases, they have to give you up to triple what you were owed, and of course, you can always take them to small claims court.”

One way or the other, Daniela says she will find a way to get the money for the trip to New Orleans to donate her kidney to her daughter, Victoria.

Daniela Lagoa: “God gave us a blessing, and I’m her mother. Which mother woudn’t give her daughter a kidney?

We will let you know when Daniela’s able to give her daughter a kidney.

Now, Daniela has filed her complaint with Broward County. We will keep an eye on it to see what the county does about her lost wages.

And does your boss or former boss owe you a paycheck? The links to file a complaint against them are linked down below. Go get the money you earned.

Anchored to a problem that left you sunk? Ready to cook up a solution? Sail our way, so we can stir things up and serve you.

Broward County – http://www.broward.org/professionalstandards/pages/wagerecovery.Aspx
Miami-Dade County – http://www.miamidade.gov/business/wage-theft.asp
Federal – http://www.dol.gov/WHD/workers.htm#complaint

CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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