Domestic worker’s hostile workplace, including sexually explicit comments about her body, and unpaid overtime claims as a “live-in nanny”, regardless of full-time student status, not paid 1 1/2 times her normal wage rate for working over 44 hours weekly and denied 1 rest day every 7 days and not paid 3 rest days each year, who claimed her employer sneaked into bed with her and attempted to have sex, threatened her with deportation, evicted her, survived dismissal under NY Labor and Executive Laws, having objectively and subjectively pled an offensive, hostile, or abusive workplace.

The case is Stoica v. Phipps and Phipps, Sup Ct, New York County, March 7, 2018, Lebovits, G., (No. 2018-31592, Index No. 153834/2017).

Domestic worker’s hostile workplace and unpaid overtime claims survived. She claimed that her employer made sexual comments about her body almost daily. She alleged that her employer would also sneak into her bedroom and sleep next to her. He tried to convince the domestic worker to have sex with him. When she objected, he threatened her with deportation, threatened her with termination, and evicted her from employer’s home.

Domestic worker’s complaint alleged that because of this behavior, she suffered “extreme mental anguish, emotional distress, anxiety, depression and humiliation.””

The domestic employee demanded that her employer pay her for monies she believed she was entitled to. Her employer applied for an order of protection against her. The court apparently disbelieved that domestic worker threatened her employer as alleged in the petition for order of protection.

After the order of protection strategy failed, defense counsel moved to dismiss the complaint arguing that domestic worker’s claims were inherently incredible. The court disagreed. Well pled cases are infrequently dismissed pre-answer. Defense counsel even offered an inadmissible affidavit which the court rejected.

Domestic employee brought 8 causes of action against her former employer and most of them survived dismissal. Employers of domestic workers rarely keep good employment records. They often have no records of days or hours worked and may have paid in cash. Pursuing alternate defense strategies, as in this case, can consume more time and resources than attempting early resolution.

These claims are never easy to defend even for the most experienced and skilled litigators. It’s often a battle of credibility and depicts why early resolution of these claims can benefit both sides.