American reality TV star Kim Kardashian has denied violating California labour laws, in the wake of a legal suit filed by seven former members of staff at her Hidden Hills residence.
Andrew Ramirez, his brother Christopher Ramirez and son Andrew Ramirez Jr., along with Aron Cabrea, Rene Ernesto Flores, Jesse Fernandez and Robert Araiza were employed as gardeners and maintenance staff, and had accused Kim of holding back taxes from their wages but not handing over the amounts to the government, reports latimes.com.
They further said that Kim did not pay for overtime, did not allow meal and rest breaks and had a 16-year-old on the staff surpass the 48 weekly working hours allowed for an employee of his age. One plaintiff accused that when he raised such issues, he was fired.
According to the website, the complaint stated: "Plaintiffs ... were not paid on regular periods, were not given their required meal and rest breaks, were not provided a means to record all their hours, were not paid all their hours, were not reimbursed for employment expenses, were not paid all their overtime wages, and were not paid their wages upon termination of employment.
"In addition, Plaintiff Andrew Ramirez was terminated when he inquired about his rights as an employee and Plaintiff Andrew Ramirez, Jr., was employed as a sixteen-year-old minor, but worked longer than the maximum hours allowed to be worked by minors under the Labor Code."
The plaintiffs' attorney also represents them in a similar labour suit against rapper Kanye West, from whom Kim filed for divorce in February.
Kim said in a statement: "Wage theft and other workplace violations are a widespread problem in Los Angeles. My firm is currently investigating other potential violations against these defendants, as well as other powerful families and businesses on behalf of everyday workers."
A spokesperson for Kim told pagesix.com: "These workers were hired and paid through a third-party vendor hired by Kim to provide ongoing services. Kim is not party to the agreement made between the vendor and their workers, therefore she is not responsible for how the vendor manages their business and the agreements they have made directly with their staff."
The spokesperson added: "Kim has never not paid a vendor for their services and hopes that the issue between these workers and the vendor who hired them can be amicably resolved soon."
Victor Narro of the UCLA Labor Center said more facts would be necessary to determine liability in this case, but stressed: "Low-wage workers in Los Angeles lose $26.2 million per week due to wage-theft violations.
"A common form of wage theft takes place with subcontracting or third-party hiring of workers to perform a service for the entity (or person) that created this arrangement," he wrote in an email to The Times.
"The judge in this case will decide on the liability of the parties involved, but the facts are not uncommon to what many workers experience when they perform maintenance, gardening and other services in residential homes," Narro added.