SANTA ANA, Calif. (CN) – A sham company lured pregnant Chinese women to the States with promises of medical care and housing, then “tricked” their caretakers into signing leases, forced them into grueling 70-plus hour work weeks, and pocketed their wages, the workers claim.
A group of six caretakers sued Xin Xi Du Month Center (XXD) and associated businesses and individuals in Orange County Superior Court last week, claiming the center paid “substantial” fees to bring pregnant Chinese women to the United States.
The defendants covered expectant mothers’ “local transportation, medical care, housing, food service and housekeeping” until they gave birth, the 27-page complaint states, “thereby securing United States citizenship for the children.”
The plaintiff caretakers provided “all of the services and care necessary to support the pregnant women before and after the birth of the children,” the lawsuit continues. These services included cooking and cleaning, providing rides to medical providers and shopping malls, and attending to other emergency and special needs.
The caretakers claim they worked seven days a week for at least 10 hours each day, but they never received hourly or overtime wages, nor breaks.
Instead, XXD paid the workers a so-called “daily wage.”
XXD did not keep any record of the caretakers’ hours, the lawsuit states, nor did it report any paid wages to the IRS or Franchise Tax Board.
The workers say that in some cases, XXD tricked them into signing apartment leases by pledging to “make all of the necessary payments.”
The caretakers found out those promises were bogus when landlords sued them over rent that was never paid.
Plaintiff Xuehong Li worked as a driver and housekeeper for XXD from November 2014 to March 2017 for $100 per day, the lawsuit states, which is below California’s minimum wage of $10.50 per hour.
According to the complaint, Li submitted expense reimbursements for $1,180 in gas and $2,500 in groceries, but was never paid. He also says he was regularly required to work four-to-five extra hours per day for clients’ emergency and special needs.
Li is also facing $8,900 in rent collections, he claims, which the defendants ducked.
Defendant J & C Travel Group, an alter ego of defendants Fiona Chan and Jeff Zhang – founders of XXD – was merely a “shell” and “sham” without capital, assets, stock or stockholders, established to evade wage payments, the workers claim.
“Chan and Zhang commingled the funds and assets they obtained from plaintiffs with those controlled by J & C to evade payment of obligations owed to plaintiffs and to assist in evading payments of these obligations,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit does not provide further details on what became of the Chinese mothers or their children after the births.
“As of the date of filing of this complaint, employers have not paid plaintiffs any wages for plaintiffs’ work, or compensated plaintiffs for missed meal and rest periods, other than the monthly cash payment,” the lawsuit states.
The workers seek $1 million, plus punitive damages, for failure to pay minimum wage and overtime wages, failure to pay wages for missed meal and rest periods, and failure to reimburse business expenses, among other claims.
They are represented by Sam Wu in Rancho Cucamonga, California.
Wu did not respond to a request for comment on Friday.