A migrant domestic worker has filed a lawsuit against two top tech executives Wednesday accusing them of exploitative working conditions, including wage theft and sexual harassment.
Julieta Dela Cruz Yang, a former live-in housekeeper and nanny for Cameron Poetzscher, Uber’s head of corporate development, alleges he and his partner Varsha Rao, head of global operations for Airbnb, “created and maintained a sexually hostile work and home environment” while overworking her for little pay.
The 45-year-old Filipina and single mother of three claims she worked shifts of 10 hours a day without breaks while being repeatedly subjected to Poetzscher’s sexual harassment.
“I am speaking up for the sake of my own dignity and so that no other Filipina migrants will have to go through what I went through,” Yang said in a press release published by Migrante Northern California, an activist group supporting her case.
“I know there are many others like me in this city – mothers, migrants, workers doing the work that makes all other work possible,” she added.
The couple has reportedly denied the allegations.
Yang is one of the 46 percent of an estimated 2.5 million domestic workers in the United States who, as a result of their foreign nationality, are often subjected to lower wages and sexual harassment.
According to a 2012 report from the National Domestic Workers Alliance, undocumented domestic workers are paid roughly 20 percent less than their U.S.-citizen counterparts and are often subjected to hazardous working conditions. Similarly, researchers found that 85 percent of undocumented immigrants who encountered problems with their working conditions did not complain because they feared their immigration status would be used against them.
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“Domestic workers, who work alone and behind closed doors, are particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment, low pay, and other unfavorable working conditions,” stated Hina Shah, Director of the Women’s Employment Rights Clinic at Golden Gate University School of Law, and one of Yang’s attorneys.
“Their vulnerability is exacerbated by the fact that for many domestic workers, the place where they work is also where they live,” explained Winifred Kao, Litigation Director at the Asian Law Caucus, also an attorney for Yang.
She added, “There is fear that coming forward will jeopardize both. We want people to know that community and legal organizations can help. Julieta and other live-in domestic workers like her are entitled to the minimum wage and overtime for the hours they work, and to a work and home environment free of sexual harassment.”