Fresno woman fighting labor law fines
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A local businesswoman and reality TV star is fighting back, challenging the state labor commissioner and contesting the more than one million dollars in fines that she's been ordered to pay.
Stephanie Costa owns the Bedford Care Group and was once featured in the hit show "Millionaire Matchmaker." Costa and her attorneys are now appealing the labor law violations she's accused of.
More than a dozen former employees say Stephanie Costa owes them lost wages from over time, meal and rest breaks and from minimum wage. All of them are testifying in a case that they say sets a precedent for caregivers.
One by one, caregivers who once worked for the Bedford Care Group and once provided for the elderly filed into the Fresno Labor Office to plead their case and tell the state their story.
Their attorney Gina Szeto said, "This case for them is more than about the back wages. It's about justice and it's about making sure that Stephanie stops these labor practices."
Stephanie Costa also filed into that same office with her attorneys. She's the same Stephanie Costa seen in Bravo's "Millionaire Matchmaker", talking about her business, and featuring her home and cars in Beverly Hills.
Costa owns six residential care facilities across Fresno and Clovis. Her former caregivers went to the state for help. Saying they worked under severe conditions. The labor commissioner called it "wage theft" and ordered the Bedford Care Group to pay more than a million dollars in unpaid overtime, 17 grand in unpaid minimum wage and 95 grand in meal and rest period premiums. Attorneys for the caregivers say while testimony continues, both sides want to reach an agreement.
Szeto said, "Both sides are pretty far apart at this point, but both sides would like to resolve this and we've been amicably negotiating with one another."
Juliet Delos Reyes testified that she handed in falsified time-sheets. Stephanie Costa's attorneys wouldn't comment on camera, but said in court that Reyes held different roles which would directly affect her wages. The witness list spans ten people and attorneys for the caregivers say they're not giving up anytime soon. "She has been saying that she is a warrior and she is going to be a warrior for the next few days."
The appeal hearing continues Friday at 9am and is expected to last through next week.
fresno, crimetracker, lawsuit, court, fresno county, local, stephanie stone
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