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Bilingual wage theft clinic opens in Cleveland Wednesday

The Young Latino Network offices are in Cleveland's Clark-Fulton neighborhood, where there is a large Hispanic population.
Gabriel Kramer
Ideastream Public Media
The Young Latino Network offices are in Cleveland's Clark-Fulton neighborhood, home to a large Hispanic population.

A bilingual wage theft clinic tailored to Spanish-speaking people opens in Cleveland Wednesday.

The Young Latino Network, a Cleveland-based community organization, partnered with the Northeast Ohio Worker Center to open the free clinic to help people, particularly members of the Hispanic communities in the area, better advocate for themselves if an employer fails to provide proper compensation and benefits.

Wage theft takes many forms including failure to pay nonexempt employees overtime wages, paying less than minimum wage or denying required breaks.

According to the nonprofit research institute Policy Matters Ohio, an estimated 213,000 Ohioans experience wage theft each year.

“The workers that are victims of wage theft have Young Latino Network — people that we could trust, people that could speak their language,” said Marko Ayala, a Young Latino Network program manager. “We just want to make sure that the language barrier is not as prominent whenever people are seeking these kinds of resources.”

It's a problem that disproportionately affects people of color, according to Policy Matters Ohio. Immigrants can be particularly vulnerable, Ayala said.

“I feel like these companies just try to take advantage of that language barrier and also kind of take advantage of the immigrant status of some of the people that are affected,” he said.

The clinic will provide tips, guidance, strategies and connections to resources such as legal services, Ayala said. In most cases, people won’t need legal assistance, he said.

“That’s our goal, I believe, to make sure that people know to use the resources that are available to them in the community, but also have that confidence in facing these issues,” Ayala said. “It’s all about providing resources — providing clear-cut information.”

The clinic will take place on the fourth Wednesday of every month, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Young Latino Network offices in Cleveland’s Clark-Fulton neighborhood.

The Northeast Ohio Worker Center also offers video chat appointments to discuss wage theft every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The clinic is open to all workers.

Gabriel Kramer is a reporter/producer and the host of “NewsDepth,” Ideastream Public Media's news show for kids.