Stephanie Costa is testifying in labor law case

A Fresno businesswoman and one time reality TV star took the stand testifying against her former employees.
February 5, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
A Fresno businesswoman and one time reality TV star took the stand testifying against her former employees.

Stephanie Costa is challenging the state labor commissioner, fighting to keep the more than one million dollars in fines she's been ordered to pay.

The assisted living provider who appeared on an episode of "Millionaire Matchmaker" is accused of labor law violations.

A former employee told a state hearing officer that she was overworked and underpaid.

Attorneys representing the business looked for holes, and inaccuracies in that testimony.

Speaking through an interpreter, Mercedes Pineda told a state hearing officer that her former boss didn't give her a day off for six months.

The caregiver broke down on the stand, expressing her anger against Stephanie Costa, the owner of a group of assisted living homes in Fresno and Clovis.

She described her sleep as minimal while she worked around the clock to care for the dying.

Pineda said, "We worked hard we didn't sleep, that time we have hospice."

Costa once appeared in an episode of Bravo's Millionaire Matchmaker talking about her business, and featuring her home and cars, in Beverly Hills. Her former caregivers went to the state for help, citing a lack of wages and overtime pay.

After an audit, the labor commissioner's office ordered the Bedford Care Group and Stephanie Costa 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.

Stephanie Costa's attorneys declined to comment, but in cross examination, have poked holes in some of the caregivers testimony, even identifying confusion in their roles and duties.

Attorneys representing the caregivers have said in past interviews that they hope this case sets a precedent.

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."

The case has lasted eight days, and there's still a lot of testimony to get through in this appeal hearing.

Attorneys are now trying to figure out when the case will resume.


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