An official of the Organization of American States has been ordered by a Fairfax County Circuit Court jury to pay $2,700 to the Colombian house-keeper he underpaid for two years.
A seven-member jury ordered Roberto Scioville, director of employee relations at OAS, to pay back minimum wages and damages to Delma Rodriguez, a 30-year-old woman who spent four years working in the Sciovilles' household.
Miss Rodriguez filed suit last November charging that she was not paid the minimum wage for two years beginning May, 1974, the point at which domestics were included under the American minimum wage standards, until May, 1976, when she left the Scioville home.
Miss Rodriguez's attorney, Michael Alonge, said the verdict certainly sets the legal precedent" that domestics hired by diplomatic visa holders are entitled to the minimum wage.
Scioville's attorney, John Dalonas, said he plans to file a motion to have the verdict overturned.
Scioville and James Schlotfeldt, OAS deputy director of personnel, both testified earlier this week that the contracts made between the OAS employees and the foreign domestics they hire are first approved by the State Department before they can be effective.
Scioville testified that he was not aware that the minimum wage law had been extended to include domestic workers and that in drafting Miss Rodriguez's contact, he was following the usual OAS procedure. He said he had no reason to believe it was incorrect.
"I always followed the instructions of my office," Scioville said. "There was nothing in writing which mentioned the law."
After the contracts, which provide for a minimum monthly salary of $100 a month, are approved by an OAS committee, they are submitted to the State Department, Scioville testified.
"The Department of State and the Department of Labor were never able to give us any information on minimum wages," Schlotfeldt testified. "If the Department of State approved a domestic's visa it was assumed it was in compliance."
Miss Rodriguez's contract stated that she would be paid $100 a month, she would pay her own expenses - except for health insurance, which the Sciovilles would provide and she would work six days a week. Also, she would take vactions with the family, be provided uniforms andhave the cost of her plane ticket from Columbia deducted from her wages, then reibursed at the end of the two-year-contract.
Her second contract, renewed in 1975, raised her salary to $120 a month while the other benefits remained the same.
Miss Rodriguez testified that the Sciovilles complied with the contract, but she said she sometimes worked seven days a week. She also said she cooked nearly all the meals, kept the house and took care of the Scioville's school-age daughter Nicole.
Three friends of the Sciovilles and Mrs. Scioville testified that Miss Rodriguez did little work, had most of the weekends off, only looked after Nicole a few hours a day and went to Columbia, Virginia Beach, Va., Ocean City, Md., Rehoboth Del., and other vacations with the family where she did little work.
Mrs. Scioville testified that they paid for a correspondence course for Miss Rodriguez so she could learn English, but she quit. Miss Rodriguez testified that she quit because Mrs. Scioville would not help her and laughed at her.
Miss Rodriguez, who speaks and understands almost no English, used an interpreter during her two days of testimony.
When Miss rodriguez left the Sciovilles after breaking her second contract, the Sciovilles gave her $1,152.89 they had saved for her in a bank account, Miss Rodriguez testified.