VANCOUVER - A live-in caregiver who worked for four years without pay is suing her employer to recover the money she claims she's owed.
Evelyn Yacas worked 16-hour days tending to her employer's elderly mother at a home in Richmond, B.C., the B.C. Supreme Court lawsuit states.
Initially from the Philippines, Yacas moved to Canada in 2004 as part of the federal immigration and citizenship ministry's live-in caregiver program.
Yacas was hired by Christine Leung in the fall of 2004, she said, to work from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. She was to be paid minimum wage, and overtime.
The exception, the lawsuit said, was that she was permitted to work a shorter, eight-hour day on the first day of her menstruation period each month.
Shortly after she was hired, Yacas claims she was "compelled" to sign a blank employment contract that could be renewed every year.
Her court claim said she was never given a copy of the document, but was told the contract would allow Leung to renew her work permit.
Under the terms of that contract, it was agreed Yacas would continue to work until she became a permanent resident, sponsored her family to join her in Canada, or Leung's mother died — whichever came first.
Yacas says the pair agreed that Leung would calculate wages and keep the wages in trust until her family was ready to immigrate from the Philippines and buy a house.
Leung did advance a portion of Yacas' wages so she could travel to see her family and send them funds, the court documents state, but these funds were not gifts and Yacas paid most of them back with interest.
Though she repeatedly asked for a tally of what she was owed, Yacas said Leung ignored her requests, or said she was "too busy" to do the calculations.
Leung's mother died after being diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2008 and her employment was ended.
Yacas said she did not receive a paystub or receipt for the duration of her work. She was, however, issued a tax receipt that listed her annual income in the range of $12,000 to $16,000.
Yacas filed a complaint with the Employment Standards Branch, but it was rejected because it exceeded the time limitation period.
Court documents state Leung's legal counsel sent Yacas a letter notifying the caregiver she no longer has a claim to her wages.
Nothing has been proven in court and Leung has not yet submitted a statement of defence.
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