Bread on the table.

From your favorite local sandwich shop to the newest 5-star restaurant, there’s likely a hard-working cook or dishwasher in the back of the house. It might surprise you how many of these people are migrant workers and how often they are cheated by restauranteurs to increase profitability. It’s called wage theft. 

Antonio worked at a restaurant in Arkansas where wage theft was rampant, including unpaid overtime. Learning about the restaurant’s practices, students at the University of Arkansas Law School wanted to help Antonio recover his stolen wages. To represent him, they needed his signature on legal documents, but Antonio had already returned home to Guanajuato, Mexico. 

The students thought they had reached an impasse but then learned about Justice in Motion and reached out for help. Justice in Motion contacted one of their human rights Defenders in Mexico. The Defender traveled to Guanajuato, met with Antonio, and got the necessary signatures for the case to move forward. 

This ultimately led to a large settlement for Antonio involving tens of thousands of dollars. It may also lead to settlements on behalf of other workers at the same restaurant. For the students, this case demonstrated that justice can be served, even across borders. For restaurant workers everywhere, it sends the message to restauranteurs that wage theft will not be tolerated.