A Filipina domestic helper in New York bravely sued Manhattan billionaires for allegedly failing to pay for her overtime fees and other violations as per the Fair Labor Standards Act.
A complaint was filed by OFW Maria Lopez against Manhattan billionaire couple Gary Barnett and Ayala Barnett at the U.S District Court for allegedly violating the New York State Wage Theft Act and the Domestic Worker’s Bill of Rights.
It is said that the Filipina was working as a housekeeper to the Barnetts for the past nine years. Lopez was with them when the couple lived in Queens and Monsey from September 2010 until December 2017. But from January 2018 until March 18, 2020, the OFW became a non-live in the worker as the couple moved in into their new home in Monsey, New York.
Inside the 8,000-square foot residence of the Barnetts, Lopez is responsible for the “cleaning all nine bedrooms, 11 bathrooms, the kitchen, living room, and any other room in the house.” She was also tasked to wash, iron, and fold the clothes for the family. She cleans the house, does other errands, cooked, served food, clean the table, washes dishes, and took care of the children.
But in the two other residences of the Barnetts, the Filipina did all the same things. “The Barnetts and Lopez traveled to the Pennsylvania residence on or about July 12 each year and stayed there until the family returned to their house in either Queens or Monsey at the end of August so the children could attend school,” as stated by the court documents.
“While in Pennsylvania, in addition to her regular duties cooking, cleaning the house, and taking care of the children, Lopez was also required to wash and scrub the outside patio.”
In the years 2010 until 2017, Lopez worked for 76 to 78 hours per week with Saturdays as her only day off. But the salary which was paid to her did not indicate how much was her rate of pay, number of hours worked, overtime pay and other important details.
From 2013 until 2014, her salary was $800 per week and towards the end of her employment, Lopez was being paid $1,200 per week and an additional $200 for her transportation fee.
But according to the New York Labor Law, domestic helpers who live with their employers need to be paid with overtime fees after working for 44 hours per week. While non-live-in domestic helpers should only spend 40 hours per week or they should be paid overtime pay for extra hours.
“Unfortunately, most families in New York who have live-in housekeepers or nannies, pay them on a weekly salary and ignore the legal requirement to pay them overtime,” says the Legal counsel of Lopez, Louis Pechman.
“In the wake of COVID-19, we have seen an uptick in cases involving domestic workers who have had to work extraordinary hours but have been cheated out of their overtime.”