Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Pinay domestic sues Uber, Airbnb execs

A Filipino live-in nanny filed a lawsuit earlier this week (Thursday in Manila) against a “power couple” in San Francisco claiming she was sexually harassed and paid less than the minimum wage.

Julieta Yang filed the lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court against Cameron Poetzscher, head of corporate development for Uber, and Varsha Rao, head of global operations for Airbnb.

 "I did whatever they asked me to do at any time of the day. Despite that, they treated me with great disrespect. And I learned that they were not paying me the minimum wage," Yang said in a video People Power Media posted on Youtube.

Attorneys from the Asian Law Caucus and the Women’s Employment Rights Clinic at Golden Gate University of Law and advocates from Migrante Northern California, a group that supports and advocates for Filipino migrant workers, announced the lawsuit.

Yang started working for Poetzscher and Rao in 2008, while they were living in Singapore, and relocated to the United States with them in 2013 after they promised to triple her wages, according to the lawsuit.

While she cared for the couple’s two children, she also performed housekeeping, cooking and other chores for them, routinely working more than nine hours a day, six days a week for a flat rate of $450 a week, according to the lawsuit.

Yang accused Poetzscher of repeatedly sexually harassing her. He walked around naked in front of her, asked her to give him massages, made sexual remarks and innuendos, questioned her about her sex life and on at least one occasion masturbated in front of her, the lawsuit alleges.

Yang said she complained to Rao and to Poetzscher more than once about the wage violations and Poetzscher’s behavior before quitting in April 2015.

Uber released a statement from a spokesperson for Cameron Poetzscher that said he and Rao were “deeply shocked and saddened” and called the allegations “completely and utterly false”:

“Julieta worked as our nanny for seven years and was an important part of our family, someone both our children loved deeply. … Julieta left in April, and we have not heard from her since then," the statement read.

Yang came forward after she connected with someone at Migrante, who informed her of her rights.

Cases such as Yang’s are not uncommon.

A 2013 report issued by the National Domestic Workers Alliance found that 61 percent of domestic workers reported being paid less than what the group estimated was needed to support a family and 25 percent reported being paid below the California minimum wage.

Domestic workers are especially vulnerable because their work place is also the place where they live, and advocates believe sexual harassment for such women is greatly underreported.

“I’m not alone. … I want other migrant domestic workers to know that they don’t have to work under conditions like this either," Yang said. —NB, GMA News 

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