MAILBAG: My Cleaning Lady Just Sued Me – YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!

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TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN

Many in the community currently use the services of Spanish-speaking cleaning-ladies who hail from South or Central America, most of whom are in the country illegally.

I would like to bring to the unsuspecting public’s attention a story that is currently taking place, so that others can protect themselves when employing the above-mentioned people:

I employed one of these women full-time, for over eight years, paying her $10, then $11, and subsequently $12 per hour.

Before this past Pesach, she asked for $13 per hour, which I agreed to give her on condition that she would be willing to come for the next two Sundays before Pesach. Although she would work on Sundays when she needed extra money, this time she refused, and left the house with me being furious that she had turned me down.

She never returned, and I figured that she must have found a better paying job.

I must make it very clear that I was an extremely kind, lenient employer.

• I gave her $10 every day so that she could buy her own kosher food, plus she had a free lunch hour that she got paid for.
• Although, she damaged many clothing items, I never expected her to reimburse me.
• If she worked very late, I would feed her supper and send her home with an Uber, at a fare of approximately $30.
• When she complained that the workload was too heavy for her, (I live in a duplex with my husband and young daughter), I brought in a second lady to assist her.
• She would chat on the phone while working, even though it impeded her speed and distracted her, but I never told her to turn her iPhone off.
• I kept quiet when she would stay late because she wanted to make up her missed hours, even though I knew she was taking advantage of me.
• I gave her many items of used clothing when she hinted that she desired them, plus I bought her teenage daughter a new winter coat when she asked me to.
• Lastly, I tipped her very generously before the Jewish holidays.

This week I got a court summons.

This very woman, whom I wined and dined, and with whom I tried to make a “Kiddush Hashem”, treating her with utmost respect, is suing me!!! For the hefty sum of $75,000 dollars!!! She claims that she should have been paid time and a half for each of her hours of overtime. (She never, ever, mentioned time and a half in all her years of working at my home).

After consulting with three different lawyers, it is apparent that the law is on her side. (Ironically, she revealed to me recently that she has a deportation notice…). Sadly, there is little I can do but make a settlement with her. I do not know how much this joke will cost me in the end, but I am heartbroken to have to give my hard-earned money to such a disloyal, ungrateful person.

Moreover, I now know that I am not the first gullible “heimishe” woman who has taken in a Mexican housekeeper, and then been sent a summons. This trend is becoming increasingly popular. There are Spanish speaking lawyers who offer these workers their services, free of charge, on condition that they get a share of the settlement money. The complaints against employees can vary, but the motive is the same.

I know some might ask why I kept her all these years if I had complaints against her. The truth is that I trusted her. She may have lied occasionally, but she never touched my valuables though she had enough opportunities to snitch. Plus, she was a reliable worker overall, who arrived when she said she would. She knew the running of my home, and she took off many of my responsibilities.

I sincerely regret being so gracious to her, and I feel that she has punched me in the face.

Ladies! Please don’t make the same mistakes as me!
• Never trust these chevra even if you think they are truly loyal to you.
• Never employ the same person for 40 hours a week or longer, unless she is prepared to be paid on the books, by check, and then have to pay her taxes. I wish I had insisted on this, but it is almost impossible to get a housekeeper under these conditions.
• Keep a record of her hours and have her sign it. Thus, in the future, she won’t be able to claim that she worked longer. You must have proof. If not, it’s her word against yours. Overtime is considered eight or more hours a day, and/or forty hours a week or longer.
Remember: even if you only employ her once a week, she can sue you if she worked eight hours or more in a single day.
• Never let them think you have spare money; they will simply take advantage of you.

I hope this report iy”H helps prevent others from experiencing these scenarios.

Anonymous in Brooklyn

NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of YWN.

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96 COMMENTS

  1. To the author of this article:

    Being part of the heimeshe tzibur doesn’t equate to stupidity or ignorance of widely known and publicized federal and state labor laws governing minimum wages, overtime, sick leave, benefits and other rules which vary across jurisdictions and the tax/SS/disability withholding obligations that also may apply. These obligations have been reported in the secular and frum media over and over again so there is zero likelihood anyone could legitimately claim “I did not know”. I’m not endorsing being in the U.S. without documentation but that is no reason to exploit such workers. And yes, even if you think you are treating them like royalty and doing more than your neighbor does for her cleaning lady, you are exploiting them and violating the law if you fail to provide all the required benefits, fail to withhold taxes and fail to submit reports. If you are in doubt, you should contract with one of the many reputable cleaning services owned an operate by other members of the frum tzibur who will take care of all these details and are also screen their employees and are insured and bonded so you are protected. Yes, they are more expensive than hiring your own cleaning lady but that extra cost will protect you against these incidents.

  2. “After consulting with three different lawyers, it is apparent that the law is on her side. (Ironically, she revealed to me recently that she has a deportation notice…). Sadly, there is little I can do but make a settlement with her.”
    NO!!!! I’m not a lawyer – Get yourself a GOOD lawyer and sue her in Federal Court to stop the State Lawsuit.
    The libs in this country are going NUTS!

  3. I feel quite sorry for you but this is a very unusual story. Additionally, details seem to be missing since if she was here illegally, I assume you paid her in cash. If so, I don’t understand how she is suing you since their is presumably no proof that she ever worked for you. I would also consult with lawyer if I were you.

  4. Hire legal help from an insured and bonded cleaning company and you wont have regrets.

    I got rembursed from the company after I proved that one of the workers broke a shelf in my fridge.

  5. Illegals have taken control of our country! They own our land! We actually gave it to them! When you call an office number you’re often told to press Sinca for Spanish and 1 or 2 for English- but Spanish is usually first! We gave them our land!

  6. ” Keep a record of her hours and have her sign it. Thus, in the future, she won’t be able to claim that she worked longer. You must have proof. If not, it’s her word against yours. Overtime is considered eight or more hours a day, and/or forty hours a week or longer”

    While I’m not a lawyer, but this does not make any sense, as she doesn’t even have any record that she was employed by you. Technically, you can deny she even worked for you. The same way one can sue for ‘overtime’, you can sue that you worked for 100’s of hrs more…

  7. Why not counter-sue for the damages she caused? Perfect time to present a bill for all the goods you gave her, for which there was no contract – from your story it does sound like you have offsets. Also, check your homeowners policy, if the policy covers the lawsuit the insurance company will have her in court longer than she can last in the country. Don’t settle!

  8. It’s IMPOSSIBLE that there’s nothing you can do.

    Go to the feds: 1) She’s here illegally. 2) Counter sue for all the damages she did and all the advantage-taking. 3) All the things you bought here in good faith and the costly rids etc. must be returned! – Get a shark of a lawyer – not the CPA type…

  9. Yes. This story is REAL. It happened to me as well. I gave my cleaning lady tons of food, she was part of the family for years and years (12 years). We always gave her an extra few hundred during Yom Tov. A weeks salary for Christmas, Sent her home in Ubers in bad weather. And then one day she paid us back with a labor lawsuit.

    Yes. It happened.

    #MeToo

  10. Gadolhadorah, your liberalism makes you a mean person to the victim and the defendent of a criminal. It is so nausciating. This frum lady has abosolutely NOT exploited anyone, certainly not that ungrateful witch of a worker. Firstly, the cleaning lady was NOT forced to work for someone when the terms we’re clearly agreed upon by both parties beforehand, so there’s no exploitation involved whatsoever to begin with. If she didn’t like the terms she could LEAVE. Secondly, the employer paid her nicely as well as gave her bonuses with clothing and free taxi which she was not in any way obligated to do so. You call that exploitation?! And that criminal suing her employer for “overtime” which was not in the original terms of employment which was clearly agreed upon beforehand of 12$ an hour, is not exploitation?! Have you lost your mind?! Not for nothing do they say like liberalism is a mental disorder…

  11. Nothing you can do? Just say, lo hadam. She never worked for me, I don’t know who she is.

    If she can prove she worked for you, then you are in trouble anyway for not withholding, providing benefits etc.

  12. PLEASE explain how an illegal immigrant can sue for overtime if she never declared working in the U.S. to begin with?
    I would also like to hear more about the agencies with legal employees please?
    Thanks soooo much !!

  13. Gadolhatorah you need help.
    To the author of this article- thank you for sharing this and I with the rest of klal yisroel hope you win the case against this sly lowlife.

  14. Get someone who knows the law. They may even be able to get the whole thing thrown out before it goes any further.
    Don’t let her side make up the law for you!
    FYI, in New York, overtime is after 40 hours per week. Not 8 hours per day.

  15. To Philospher: Yup, its my “liberalism” that tells me that under the law, you can believe you are being benevolent to an undocumented worker but if you fail to comply with federal and state rules governing employment of domestic help, you will be found to have violated the law no matter how good a person you thought you were. Those rules are strictly applied by the courts and you don’t gain an exemption by doing other good deeds that may not be required. Its that simple. And yes, it is considered exploitation if you fail to provide minimum guaranteed benefits to a person you employ who may not have the resources to challenge you at the time of the violations.

  16. To all those who are claiming this cant be true because shes illegal, and get a better lawyer etc…

    It unfortunately is nothing new.

    Logically you would think illegal aliens cant sue etc etc but i live in Monsey and this has been happening a lot recently-i have 2 people in my neighborhood whos cleaning ladies have sued them for “injuries on the job” that were totally bogus and they both won.

    Apparently theres a lawyer (i think on rt 59?)who specializes in helping illegal hIspanics sue.
    It happens, as crazy as it is.

  17. “Nothing you can do? Just say, lo hadam. She never worked for me, I don’t know who she is.”

    Yes because lying is a solution to the problem.

    If you are unwilling to hire household help via an agency check with some local credit unions, many will establish a payroll account for household help for little or no cost. I’ve done it for years. It will still be your responsibility to check their immigration status.

  18. You are not allowed to make a contract with terms that are illegal in US law, meaning you cannot pay someone below minimum wages, without Overtime or “Off the Books”

    It is also the employers responsiblity to verify an employees legality regarding working status.

    Its shameful the comments here given, The writer broke the law, that the worker also broke the law is irrelevant, it was the employers responsibility to verifiy that they were legal. Your best bet is get a good lawyer and hope you dont have to pay so much.

    Not only could you be liable for the $75,000, you could be liable for all the back payroll taxes as well

    And not they do not deport someone who reports an employer for illegally hiring them

  19. Seems like a lot of contradictions here. The purpose of “Worker Compensation” is exactly to pay workers injured on the job, and legally an employee cannot sue an employer for medical injury (except for deliberate in juries like the employer beating the employee, and that includes emotional injury) when there is Workers Compensation. So was Workers Compensation paid on behalf of these workers? The Supreme Court ruled in the mid-1980’s (when hiring an illegal alien was actually LEGAL at the time) that illegals have all the labour protection rights of everyone else. That ruling was not reconsidered even after the law was changed to make if illegal ti hire illegal aliens.

    And as an employer, did the employer deduct the required taxes from the wages? Seems the employer would be on the hook for that. And if the taxes were deducted, to what SSN was it credited?

  20. To Rikki, she can’t say she’s never seen her in her life, there are records on Uber that she sent her home with, as I’m sure there are plenty of phone records from their communication

  21. i would consult with a lawyer, but consider uploading a picture of the lady, so the oylom can become aware who she is, let’s see how many jobs she gets after that

  22. There is an old saying, ‘ignorance of the law is no excuse’, nor is an excuse to lie as another poster suggested. If you are hiring someone investigate your rights and obligations to them.

  23. Never employ the same person for 40 hours a week or longer, unless she is prepared to be paid on the books, by check, and then have to pay her taxes.

    In other words, defrauding the government is OK so long as you don’t get caught.

  24. “Yes because lying is a solution to the problem.”

    It is, when the other person is lying. If she isnt and can prove it, then like I wrote, the person is in deep trouble.

    I can claim YOU didnt pay me minimum wage or overtime when worked +40 hours a week. I would of course have to prove I worked for you altogether.

  25. ” nor is an excuse to lie”

    If she DIDNT work 40 hours a week, or anything close to it and is making up a story, then I fully endorse making one up too, even secular courts require that you establish a claim against someone, just making a claim doesnt grant you money.

  26. There are hundreds of young attorneys at major NYC law firms that have signed up to represent undocumented workers in these types of FLSA cases on a pro bono basis, so you should expect more litigation in the coming months. Most law firms require such pro bono work and reward attorneys (for meeting minimum billable hour purposes) for time spent working on such cases. If you are unsure whether you are in full FLSA compliance and you may owe back wages and/or withholding payments to the government, hire an accountant to audit whatever records you have of your payments to your cleaning lady, landscaper etc., and make whatever additional payments you are obligated for. Otherwise, you now stand a good chance of being caught and sued.

  27. “Apparently theres a lawyer (i think on rt 59?)who specializes in helping illegal hIspanics sue.”

    There has to be a way to get the word out, simply to all these kinds. Go ahead and sue, no one will ever hire your kinds.

    For starters, which agency was she hired from?

  28. While I do feel your pain , i really do, as you sound like a very decent person, why don’t you clean your own home. I am sure your parents and grandparents cleaned after themselves.
    Why do we have to let strangers into our lives and take advantage of our good nature. There is no Kiddush Hashem. You might think that it , if it makes you feel better but the fact of the matter is Goyim , no matter what will always stab you in the back given the opportunity.

    If you are so desperate to have your house cleaned there are many Jewish teenagers looking for work, who are looking for a few extra bucks Iam sure you can make it work and keep the money in the “family”
    Good Luck to you.

  29. a duplex with one kid SO WHY DO YOU HAVE A GOYTA???? and in the summer when you are NOT WORKING , and half the kids are in CAMP, and you are living on plenty of TAKEOUT including bought dips & salads for shabbos .. you are not baking etc…. AND YOU STILL NEED A GOYTA WHY WHY !!!!!!! THERE IS NO SHIUR TO THE LAZINESS bnos yisroel are kedoshim and there is a tehillim group but what happened to us

  30. “……. UNDOCUMENTED ( caps are mine) worker ….”

    No such thing as undocumented.
    Every legal resident has documents unless pickpocketed or eaten by a pet boa.
    The words are ILLEGAL & ALIEN.

  31. Gadolhadorah, I did not talk about what is legal or not. I was talking about you saying the cleaning was talking about the supposed “exploitation” of this worker. Only liberals could claim this case to be “exploitation of an employee”! Ridiculous!

    What a good lawyer can play up in court is irrelevant to the FACT that this liar was not exploited at all.

  32. Dear Anonymous in Brooklyn,

    Thanks for sharing. I really sympathize with you. (Ignore the idiots who put any kind of blame or negligence on you.)

    I don’t know if this helps, but recently in one of the articles on YWN about the Kavanaugh hearing, he quotes his legal precedent for dismissing charges by illegal immigrants against their employee on the basis that illegals don’t get ’employer’ status. Here’s the link:
    https://www.theyeshivaworld.com/news/general/1587676/watch-it-sen-durbin-grills-judge-kavanaugh-about-rubashkin-and-agriprocessors-at-senate-hearings.html

    I’m not sure if I’ve understood it fully, or if his opinion was upheld over his dissenters, but I hope this may help.

    The best answer given though, for sure, was the one for Tehillim.

    Hatzlocha, and gmar chasima tova!

  33. Call the worker an “illegal” or “an alien” or ” a Martian”. It makes zero difference. If you hire them any don’t comply with the FLSA and applicable state/local wage/hour laws, you are now more likely than ever to be sued like the author of this letter and be required to pay substantial compensation to the person(s) you exploited and also pay fines and penalties to the government. If it makes you happier to call undocumented workers pejorative terms like a Trumpkopf, please be happy but make sure you make a local labor lawyer happy because you will need one. Simple solution. Comply with the law or hire a cleaning service that takes responsibility for compliance. Otherwise, we will look forward to your letter to the editor whining about being sued for exploiting your own cleaning lady.

  34. Go to NOLO.com -“Hiring Workers in Your Home: Legal Requirements”

    All the posters saying deny that she worked for you, won’t work in Court.
    Even if you don’t go to Federal Court, get a lawyer to say she was an ‘Independent Contractor’!!

  35. “If it makes you happier to call undocumented workers pejorative terms like….”

    Until recently, they were always called illegal aliens. The PC/liberal crowd came up with a new name a few years ago.

  36. Don’t lie, when someone uses the word “alien” in any context, an image pops into your head, and it’s an image of a green or gray humanoid.

  37. I hate to break it to you ,but this is only the beginning of these crazy, liberal ,democrat lawyers.
    The next lawsuits will be from illegal tenants.
    And if u have multiple illegal tenants , you can be sued multiple times over.

  38. I am sorry this happened to you. It is good that you are warning others.
    There is another problem with hiring housekeepers that people should be aware of. Some Rabbanim have said that if one is not home and a non-Jew is left alone in the home, then the stove and oven should be sealed with special marks so it cannot be used or someone should come in unannounced from time to time and the employee should be told that someone will be coming.

  39. Mommy10 raises and excellent point. On two occasions over the past several years, our cleaning service sent a different crew because we had rescheduled the regular cleaning day because of yom tovim and we discovered when we got home that they had used our microwave oven to heat their lunches. In one case we had to replace the microwave entirely (the interior surface was a plastic material and couldn’t be koshered). The regular crews know not to bring ANY food into the house under ANY circumstances.

  40. There’s a simple solution to all of this: just abide by the law. Make sure the worker is documented, find out what the requirements are for taxes, overtime, etc. and just do it. Giving your old clothes to the “goyta” doesn’t excuse violating “dina d’malchusa dina.” It’s not like someone is trying to force you to work Shabbos or eat treif. You’re just doing it to save a little money, even if you have to break the law. There is also the inyan of having a non-Jew unsupervised in the home, especially in regard to wine and meat. Is all your wine mevushal, or do you have it locked up? Otherwise, you may have serious problems there.

    Find a good labor lawyer who will tell you what you have to do to get right with the labor laws, and offer the worker a settlement in place of going to court. She might be happy to have a smaller amount of money without the hassle. And next time, go through an agency, or, as suggested above, do your own housework.

  41. I’m not sorry. This is what you get for harboring illegals. You admitted knowledge that “most” of the Spanish speaking ones are illegal, so why did you hire her anyway? Frankly, you’re lucky you aren’t going to jail.

    Good luck getting sympathy from us plebeians who have to clean our own homes. You knew you were paying her under the table, you probably knew she was illegal. How could you possibly think the law should be on your side? Just because you’re rich?

  42. Nothing you can do? Just say, lo hadam. She never worked for me, I don’t know who she is.

    Why can’t she say she never saw this woman in her life???

    Just to make sure I understand you… you’re advising the letter writer to not only possibly commit a felony (perjury) but also to transgress the lav of “m’dvar sheker tirchak (and during the Aseres Y’mei Teshuva, no less…)?”

    The Wolf

  43. Why don’t you just shlep out the lawsuit till she gets deported?

    I doubt that that would stop it. Her lawyer would still be in contact with her and would represent her in court and arrangements would be made to obtain her testimony remotely, if necessary.

    The Wolf

  44. Your article saddened me on many levels. I do not have the time to go into great depth about the many ways in which you disappointed me, but suffice it to say I registered an account just so I could respond to this article. You describe yourself as a religious Jewish woman so why would you break the law against hiring undocumented people? Despite breaking the law, you attest that you were good to your employee, paid her well ( although I think ten dollars an hour is a very good deal) even sent her home in an Uber if it was late at night. You go on to give other such examples of decent behavior, not outstanding behavior, not behavior that warrants a Kiddush Hashem as you claimed you were trying to do. On top of this, you report all of this information without one drop of self awareness that you broke the law. You hired this woman because you could not afford to hire someone who would have worked on the books, not because this type of employee is hard to find. If you provide living wages, then you can always find a legal worker. So either you cannot afford to properly hire a housekeeper, or you were trying to save a buck at great expense to society. The real Kiddush Hashem would have been to hire the appropriate worker for the job. I would like to take this moment and ask you to consider remembering that our mothers and grandmothers and great grandmothers raised upwards of eight children in two room tenement apartments while taking in piecework to provide their desendents with the chance of living in a duplex apartment with their husband and daughter. What luxury! They did not die in factory fires for a dollar a day so we could illegally hire and underpay others and then complain in front of a national and international audiance that the people we exploited wrong us!!! I beg that my fellow brothers and sisters would not publish articles that most of their sins as if they were mitzvahs. You harm us all when you engage in such a Chillul Hashem

  45. “Never trust these chevre even if you think they are loyal to you”

    How dare you talk about another group of human beings like that? Because your one cleaning lady did you wrong, you have the right to speak Loshon hora and assume the same about an entire race? “Spanish speaking cleaning ladies who hail from south or Central America…”

    Where’s the human decency? Has basic derech eretz gone out the window?

    If you’d like to warn others about a problem you’ve encountered, don’t make gross and unfounded assumptions about a particular race. This post is disheartening.

  46. Right now, we are facing court – the sealing of our judgment. Can we plead that we didn’t know something was against halacha? Can we plead that we were doing things for our convenience, peace of mind, or because others do it? May Hashem show us compassion.
    We don’t know this person’s circumstances or what other obligations they have.
    Maybe she didn’t know the law. Judge her for the best. A lot of people assume that if someone is an illegal immigrant that they are not covered by wage laws.
    Instead of feeling so judgmental , maybe show some compassion. After all, especially in the aseres yimei teshuva, we want Hashem not to be so judgmental of us but to show compassion and bring the geula shlaima .

  47. unbelievable. the author breaks the law by employing someone who is illegal, refuses to follow labor laws and then is upset when sued?
    dina d’malchusa dina
    break the law, suffer the consequences

  48. I’m honestly attempting to understand the logic of this article and the comments on it. First of all דִּינָא דְּמַלְכוּתָא דִּינָא so it is against Torah law to not comply with U.S labor laws. This person attempted to steal from their employee, I’m sure the Torah thinks highly of that. בְּיוֹמוֹ תִתֵּן שְׂכָרוֹ וְלֹא-תָבוֹא עָלָיו הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ, כִּי עָנִי הוּא, וְאֵלָיו, הוּא נֹשֵׂא אֶת-נַפְשׁוֹ; וְלֹא-יִקְרָא עָלֶיךָ אֶל-יְהוָה, וְהָיָה בְךָ חֵטְא. Why would saying Tehillim help, you think Hashem is trying to help you do things prohibited by rabbinic law? If you have someone spending over 40 hours a week cleaning your house that’s a pretty big house, I’m sure you can afford to pay the absolute legal minimum required by law. I clean my own home and it takes maybe a few hours a week.

    Second, absent any moral indignity, I’m shocked that the author and commentators are somehow surprised that laws apply to them. Of course someone is going to sue you for denying them their legal rights, minimum wage laws in New York require you to pay your employees overtime. Do people here really think that illegal immigrants shouldn’t be afforded any legal rights, for example I should be able to murder someone who isn’t a U.S citizen and face no repercussions? The fact that someone is in this country illegally has no bearing on whether you can steal from them. Lets call the author what they are illegal employers that stole money from their employee.

    The comments here are incomprehensible, how are you going to get the case removed to Federal Court? Does it involving violations of the U.S. Constitution or federal laws (under federal-question jurisdiction); cases between citizens of different states if the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000 (under diversity jurisdiction); or bankruptcy, copyright, patent, and maritime law questions. And if you do? The Erie Doctrine requires that Federal courts apply state law; is Donald Trump going to come down from the White house and say you shouldn’t pay illegal immigrants? The Uber rides and food will offset the overtime? Those weren’t wages, they were gifts that the employer made to the employee. I mean if you’re cleaning someones home for over 8 hours (manual labor mind you) I think you are entitled to some food and transportation. כִּי תָבֹא בְּכֶרֶם רֵעֶךָ, וְאָכַלְתָּ עֲנָבִים כְּנַפְשְׁךָ שָׂבְעֶךָ; וְאֶל-כֶּלְיְךָ, לֹא תִתֵּן. What planet do you guys live on?

  49. It is true that ideally one should pay the household help by check, and on the books, with all the tax requirements etc. The problem is that 95% of these goytas are not documented and cannot work on the books, so despite their status they cannot work legally but ironically, they can sue legally. I was told that if they work at a weekly salary (vs hourly) this overtime does not apply. I am not sure though how that can be instituted. Most goytas, once they have their papers, prefer office or hospital cleaning where the workload is much lighter. They also receive multiple benefits. It is almost impossible to find a documented cleaning lady to do residential work in frum neighborhoods since the families are large and the work taxing.

    BTW, when I hire any help in the house I make a copy of the passport of the worker, I also tell her that we have cameras throughout the house (because if ever needed, in NY courts one cannot use videos as evidence if the employee was not informed of the fact.) A good idea is to take pictures of any items broken or damaged by the goyta. By doing these things, the goyte sees that she is being watched.

    I know someone who has full-time help, and to avoid all these issues, she shares her goyta with her sister who also has full-time help. This accomplishes 2 things – Number 1 is that each workweek is less than 40 hours, and Number 2 is that if one fails to show up, at least the other one will.

    To Allan and Meir,

    I would like to recount to you a story that happened with the Satmar Rebbe zt”l shortly after the establishment of Kiryas Joel.

    One of the pioneers (Reb Yid) who moved into Section 1 – the first phase of construction – came into the Rebbe zt”l with an outcry about the cleaning ladies walking in the streets of KJ. His argument was that he moved out to this new shtetel to avoid having to see these goytas, and here they are as well.

    The Rebbe zt”l asked him if he was ready to do the work that these goytas were doing. When Reb Yid gave a resounding “NO” to that query, the Rebbe zt”l continued and told him that ‘inderheim’ almost everyone had household help – ‘vesherkes’ for the laundry, or for assistance with the children, taking a big burden off the busy balabuste, and only when you Reb Yid are ready to do that work, then you can talk. The Rebbe stated further that it was the achrayis of the woman of the house to see that the cleaning help should be dressed appropriately.

    To denounce household help is very arrogant of you. I am assuming that your wives, or even better, YOU are willing to do the menial work that the cleaning ladies provide – Kol Hakavod!

  50. The bashing of this poor victim is ridiculous. There’s nothing wrong with her saying to be careful around these chevra. These are strangers who you barely know who are in your house for hours and one should rightfully be careful with them. Stop being politically correct and stupid.

    If you are interested in hiring cleaning help through agencies then go ahead, nobody’s keeping you back, stop fardreing a kup for others. Cleaning help has been part of the Jewish housewive’s scene for centuries, including how long we have been in the US. That the government is becoming more and more authoritan and socialist is not our problem. Illegals taking advantage of liberal LAWS that allow them to sue innocent people is our problem. Personally, after reading this story I’m glad I have very little cleaning help.

  51. I must comment on the fact that some of you had the audacity to tell this writer that she should clean her home herself?! Omg!! For all the men that made that suggestion , try staying home a week and cleaning then get back to me and let me know ! Secondly, for the writer that says she’s spoiled by having a lady all week while she can clean her house in just a couple hours ? Oh my I don’t want to visit your home ! Stop being so judgmental ! This is aseres yemei

  52. Teshuva! The letter writer was trying to be kind in letting us know not to make the same mistake . She was looking out for you! Try not to be so condescending!
    Gmar chasima tova all!!

  53. I add my voice to those disgusted at the sense of entitlement and self righteousness that reeks from this letter.
    Follow the Law, period.
    Treat all human beings equaly under the law, even if they are illegal aliens.
    Dont fool yourself into thinking that it is a “liberal shtus” to live by the rules that apply to frum people too.
    Why the gehenom does a family of three need more than 8 hours of cleaning help?
    Are all frum Jews from NY/new england like this?
    Because i feel pretty embarressed to be wearing a yarmalka right now.

  54. Is all your wine mevushal, or do you have it locked up?

    Well, most people don’t have more than one or two bottles open at a time, and that’s the only wine that may be at issue. Sealed bottles, of course, have no problem.

    The Wolf

  55. I hate to break it to you ,but this is only the beginning of these crazy, liberal ,democrat lawyers.
    The next lawsuits will be from illegal tenants.
    And if u have multiple illegal tenants , you can be sued multiple times over for the same apt.

  56. The writer has been given much advice about laws and the legal system by non-attorneys…Much of it wrong.
    The writer should forget about going into Federal Court or a counterclaim,
    The ‘clean hands doctrine’ applies here. The writer willingly broke state and federal employment and immigration laws and is subject to fines and jail time. Filing a suit or counterclaim will place an admission of guilt in the public record.
    The writer did not have the employee fill out I-9 with verifiable documents showing she was legal to work in the US. There is a Federal penalty for the employer.
    The Writer did not withhold taxes, social security, unemployment taxes, Social Security or Medicare and pay the employer’s matching Social Security contributions.
    The Employer did not file required quarterly and annual city, state and federal employment tax returns, issue a W-2 and File W-3.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    The writer’s comments about hiring anyone else to work more than 40 hours is despicable, the rules don’t change just because the employee does not work overtime, the employer only avoids the overtime issue.

    The writer is just plain cheap, broke the law and got caught. She is lucky that she only faces a civil suit. The cleaning lady has the burden of proving her claim. She may not have all the contemporary documentation of hours worked. The employer may get lucky and the case will not come to trial while the cleaning lady is still in the USA.
    Otherwise, it’s time to pay up. You cheated and got caught. You have no sympathy for being a law breaker

  57. if your cleaning lady would have sued you for a slip and fall, then because she worked for you 40 hours a week – your Homeowners policy would not have covered you.
    It would have been your obligation to separately purchase workers compensation insurance.

    A Homeowners policy affords workers compensation coverage for occasional workers such as the kid who mows your lawn for you or a part-time cleaning lady – but not full time workers which as defined as 40 hours a week.
    Whether the help worked on or off the books is irrelevant.
    I am an insurance broker and have seen numerous cleaning lady and baby-sitter law suits.
    When the claim is that the help worked 40 hours, the Homeowners insurance company will deny coverage.

    You assumed a more of a risk than just illegal help and due overtime pay.
    You assumed uninsured liability if your help would have been (or claimed to have been) hurt on the job.

  58. This letter and the comments are truly a Chillul hashem right before Yom Kippur. Whatever you post on the internet is for all to see

    As of the writing of this comment this article is really going viral and lots of people are reading it and most are not sympathetic to the letter writer or many of the people who comment

  59. This article is, in and of itself, a chillul H”. This woman is honestly complaining about getting caught employing illegal immigrants and violating the Fair Labor Standards Act…. by blaming the employee?

    What is happening to this idiot is exactly what SHOULD happen to her. We should all be applauding the fact that the legal system works. While I am glad to hear that an illegal immigrant is being sent back to their home country, I am very proud that the same legal system that protects this worker protects me.

  60. chillulhashemwatch,
    No. דינא דמלכותא דינא is only for sake of the Tzibur, but you may enter an agreement to pay $5 an hour as long as they don’t report you, if you both agree. Learn Baba Kama 9th and 10th Perek.

    Second, you don’t even sound like you read the article – she damaged clothing, she got paid for yapping on the phone, she got paid for a break (not required by law), she got costly transportation and presents in good faith – how does all this fit into your דינא דמלכותא???

    Honestly, do you REALLY think this is a “chilulhashem”??? if yes, something’s really wrong with you.

  61. > wkovacs

    “the author breaks the law by employing someone who is illegal”

    Actually, that is a “gray” area. The law forbidding the hiring of illegal aliens has an explicit exception for “domestic” (private household) help, but with a vague requirement for that help to be only “sporadic”

  62. MDshweks: I don’t understand your criticism. I assume that your comment about דינא דמלכותא only applying for the “sake of the Tzibur” is a reference to the halchah that it only applies to laws instituted for the benefit of the citizens of the state, (See Rema Choshen Mishpat 369, 11, and Shach, Choshen Mishpat 73, 39). Minimum wage laws are instituted for the benefit of the state. Minimum wage law increases the standard of living of workers, reduces poverty, reduces inequality, and boosts morale, stimulating the economy. The legislative intent of those laws are certainly to benefit society and thus by your argument דינא דמלכותא is binding.

    The main difference between contract law that is enacted for private protection over societal protection is whether a statute proscribes a rule that will apply, unless otherwise indicated (announcing a default rule), or determines those contract provisions to be categorically unlawful and unenforceable despite the intent of the parties (deeming a contract illegal). Contracts can be deemed illegal if the conduct being performed by either party violates the law or is an otherwise discouraged activity that others would deem offensive or wrong. While I agree with you that דינא דמלכותא would not stop me from contracting around a default rule enacted to protect individual parties from ambiguous contracts, it would apply to contracts deemed illegal.

    This probably isn’t the forum to enter a lengthy economic debate about the prudence of minimum wage laws, and I’m not an economist, but the laws were certainly enacted to benefit the public. Most of the commentators here arguing against infringement on the employer’s freedom to contract seem to miss the entire point of minimum wage laws and why not paying them is exploitative. Employers have unfair bargaining power over their employees, and any contract they make isn’t freely entered into. The reason that the author hired someone illegal under-the-table was that undocumented immigrants are a vulnerable population that don’t have the same access to opportunity or knowledge about their legal rights. Here, although the worker was entitled to overtime pay by law (and thankfully will now get that pay) the employer used the relative imbalance of power to deny her the money she was legally owed. That is exploitative –the action or fact of treating someone unfairly in order to benefit from their work.

    Second, if you read my comment I distinctly separated my two points, one addressing the halachik aspects of דינא דמלכותא, and the other applying U.S law. Finally, I addressed some but not all of the ridiculous comments on the article. The criticism of the comment that the extra benefits the employer allegedly bestowed upon her employee somehow offset her duty to pay a fair wage that I believe you were referring to was simply that I think that basic human decency required her to provide food and transportation, and while certainly commendable, does not absolve her from her responsibility to follow the law or pay a minimum wage. That point wasn’t related to my earlier דינא דמלכותא argument. I hope that clears things up. Good Shabbos and G’mar Chasima Tovah!

  63. I may be a bit late for commenting on this thread, but relative to this issue there’s another important issue that should be addressed here; and I apologies for offending any of the liberals who seem to be sprouting forth here.
    Who has raised their salary to $12-$_____? It’s our own fault for acting out of “desperation” sometimes at the expense of wining over other people who cannot afford the higher rates. Look at the median wages in Mexico. NOT EVEN CLOSE TO $5 an hour! And in the US were mistreating them? (who knows if this is payback from above for these types of behaviors! In the days of old the rabbis would issue bans on buying meat if the market decided to inflate the price drastically which would certainly apply here in my humble oppionion )

    Also to address your issue, I think you should consider advertising to create a class action lawsuit, to collectively shoulder the financial burden. (And maybe try petitioning to our President!)

    Hatzlacha!

  64. There’s no problem of m’dvar sheker tirchak, WolfishMusings, when responding to a non-Jewish liar’s lies in non-Jewish court.

    Leaving aside the question of whether or not it’s true that the lav ends at the courtroom door, there’s the fact that there is no indication that the woman is lying. The letter writer doesn’t deny any of the facts presented.

    And, again, of course that doesn’t change the fact that people are encouraging her to purjure herself, which is a felony which can carry jail time.

    The Wolf

  65. Normal:
    What do you mean who raises their salaries, your democratically elected legislature determines minimum wage. But you’re saying that this women broke the law because she was desperate? If the price of food goes up and you can’t afford the new prices I understand how that may compel you to be less than honest, maybe underpay a bit so you can stave off starvation. But now having a full-time housekeeper is so necessary to survival that we must turn to crime in order to have someone clean after us for over 40 hours a week? You must be kidding me. Having full-time cleaning help is not a necessity. Also, what is the basis of you proposed class-action lawsuit? Who is the defendant? Who is the certified class of plaintiffs harmed? She’s the one who broke the law here, not anyone else. What rights of the author were violated? You seem to know nothing about the law or economics, what are you going on about?

    Based on the representations of three attorneys that the author consulted with a rate of 12 an hour for over 40 hours is UNDER the minimum wage. You think that if everyone in our community decided they are boycotting minimum wage paying positions until it is lowered the government will rescind the law? You also seem to think that the minimum wage in Mexico is $5 an hour because of how their government regulates the economy, instead of that it’s a weaker economy. If there were no minimum wage laws here, wages would still be above those in Mexico. Why don’t you move to Mexico and take advantage of the cheap labor prices down there?

    I’d be shocked if anyone on this thread lives on $12 an hour. I’m not saying that everyone should have equal wages or that they are entitled to a redistribution of wealth, but no one here would ever dream of being paid $12 an hour and live a half-way decent life, and somehow this is so outrageous that Hashem is punishing us for paying exorbitant wages? I’m not making any statement about the economics or morality of minimum wage laws nor commenting on what people deserve, however, I just don’t understand how you can justify saying that you obviously deserve far more than 12 bucks an hour, but its sinful to pay a cleaning lady that wage. I think people need to focus on being less entitled. If you can’t afford full-time cleaning help, then make due without exploiting others and breaking the law.

  66. To Normal….if you find an attorney to bring a “class action suit” against the goytas who have the chutzpah to sue for FLSA compliance , please consider also referring that attorney to the ethics committee of the local bar association. The point here is simple. You can be “benevolent” to your heart’s content and treat your cleaning lady like a Queen. But if you don’t comply with the nuts and bolts of hourly wage/overtime/withoholding laws etc., you are likely to be sued, find yourself paying stiff fines and penalties, and otherwise be n the wrong side of the law. Its not liberal, conservative or whatever…Its STUPID to violate the law, even those you don’t agree with.

  67. In NYC the minimum wage is $12.00/hour. It is illegal to pay less. It is also inexcusable to pay less to employ someone who is an undocumented worker.

    I live on the West Coast and employ household help for 15 hours a week. She cleans, shops, runs errands and drives me to appointments. I pay her $22.00/hour. She is not interested in my used clothes or leftover food,

    You get what you pay for.

  68. The fact is, as was already pointed out, the “benefits” you provided to her (giving her used clothing you no longer needed and paying for her kosher meals to ensure she did not bring non-kosher food into your home) do not make up for underpaying her. She was not a family member, she was an employee paid to do a job. You let her into your home not because you like her so much, but because you needed her to perform a function for you. She spent time with you not because she loved you and your family, but because she needed the money and cleaning your home was how she made money. If she found out that you were underpaying her and she was legally entitled to more money, why in the world would you expect her to willingly forego trying to get what she could under the law? Why would you expect her loyalty to you to trump her loyalty to her family? If you found out your boss was underpaying you to the tune of $75000, would you really let it slide, knowing you had bills to pay?

  69. Also, you say that theee different attorneys told you that the law is on her side. The advice you got in one of the comments to “get a GOOD lawyer” is a little ridiculous, imo. Three different people who do this for a living told you that you were wrong; looking for someone who will tell you what you want to hear is not going to change the fact that this isn’t a “joke”, as you put it.

  70. On behalf of all “undocumented” immigrants I say to all those paying off the books thanks, and please continue to do that so that we can be eligible for government programs.
    To all those liberals, etc., etc., please be considerate by paying on the books about stripping us from our government program rights that we are ‘entitled’ to.
    And to the writer of this letter, if you set a GOFUNDME account with the pledge to overthrow these rules, I will be the first to contribute.

  71. Att. All you “Dina D’Malchusaniks”: the German Jews were also “Dina D’Malchasinks” and look where it got them…in the ovens that’s where. These proper, law abiding, proud Germans Jews ended together with all other not so “Dina D’Malchasink” Jews.

    Stop with everything Jews doing being a being a “chillul Hashem”. You have no problem defending an illegal goyta but you have a problem with your Jewish sister hiring her but not paying “overtime” which was CLEARLY discussed before hiring. The choice whether to take the job was the cleaning lady’s so stop feeling oh so sorry for her! It’s despicable!

    Jews and non-Jews alike have hired help off the books since the founding of the USA (and before that too) . That the government is getting more and more ridiculous sitting on their…and cooking up new laws every single day that more and more deny rights of Americans and provide rights for illegals does not mean that frum women employing goytas are making a chillul Hashem. I’m not saying frum people should do whatever we want. Obviously, throwing down garbage in the street, cutting lines, driving quickly, does make a chillul Hashem and breaking laws indiscriminately will surely making a chillul Hashem. We need to act with derech eretz and mentzlichkeit, however, it’s ridiculous to be this proper fool where you think you can impress goyim with your extreme “dina d’malchsadige” thoughts and behavior. And it’s more despicable to stick up for an illegal’s supposed being “taken advantage of” than your Jewish sister being taken advantage of by an illegal alien and lying criminal.

  72. ChillulHashemwatch,

    A person cannot expect to be paid more than what the person produces (this is the problem with minimum wage laws – they throw unskilled workers onto the welfare rolls). Moreover, the law of supply and demand applies. If the wage were significantly higher many students would jump at the job (in fact, in Israel many yeshiva bachurs and seminary girls clean houses on Fri morning when they do not learn). Being that frum Jews would, of course, prefer frum all other things being equal the money they would get the jobs and poor immigrants (putting aside the fact that this particular woman is an illegal immigrant) would get nothing.

  73. Here’s a little math: to illustrate the letter writer’s problem: $13.00/hour x 40/hours per week is $520.00 per week. Multiply this by 52 = A yearly wage of $27, 040. The letter writer mentioned that her former employee had a child. The poverty level in NYC for two people is an income below $30, 451. So, the letter writer, indifferent to the dire straits of her house cleaner, paid her $3,411 less than the poverty level.

  74. Philosopher,
    1. Dina d’malchuta is d’Oraita (Resp. Hatam Sofer, YD 127 and 314; Avnei Millu’im 28:2; Devar Avraham, 1:1). Therefor, a “minhag” to violate the law is not a minhag (cf. kesher reshaim aino kesher). Your comment about the German Jews is a non sequitur. Besides, most German Jews survived by emigrating. The Jews of eastern Europe, who were not makpid on it were almost all wiped out.
    2. How did the cleaning lady take advantage of her employer? For your next challenge you will prve that a sheretz is tahor.

  75. Avi K, there is no minhag to violate “the law”.

    In the Nazi era the law was that Jews had to live ghettos. I can see you complying like a shefele and leaving your house because “that is the law, dina d’malchusa dina…” Today the laws in the US are getting more ridiculous. For example, anyone can decide what their genders are and you can’t discriminate against these sick people. You must hire them, accept them into chools,etc. Now don’t tell me what the law says here, one should have a right to decide who he wants to hire ( in addition to how he wants to hire them). When the government is made up of out of control liberal ( or criminal in many cases in governments around the globe) thugs, you have to use your seichel. Laws are made to protect us but when they are turned around to a continuous disadvantage for innocent citizens then one has to use their seichel. I’m not advocating breaking the law, but hiring cleaning ladies has always been done and there is nothing wrong with that just as there’s nothing wrong with famers hiring farmhands in the South off the books as had been done all these years and is still being done. Again, I’m all for businesses being totally legal with all employees being legally hired, but you don’t have to be stupid and not hire household help when you need it. And no, most Yiddishe households cannot afford to pay $12 an hour for cleaning help, most can’t even afford the $12 an hour pay.

    I highly doubt most German Jews emigrated but since I have not done research I will not comment on that. Regardless, my the point is that these model citizen German Jews, many of who identified more as German than as Jewish, we’re reduced to “inferior status” by the Germans AND THEIR GOVERNMENT and we’re persecuted regardless of their “proud German identity and model citizen behavior”.

    How had the cleaning lady taken advantage of her employer you ask?! Well, with a “dina d’malchusadige above all” mentality all you see is what the liberal government sees. Now let me tell you how this this ILLEGAL alien lawbreaker, who you and the government are always on her side despite her breaking the law, went into an AGREEMENT with her employer of $12 an hour pay. This was a business agreement despite it being an “off the book”. If she wanted to be hired legally, with all the benefits of being hired legally, she should not have worked ILLEGALLY, or on the agreed terms, period. She violated this agreement by AFTERWARDS demanding a “compensation” for something that was NOT agreed upon. If you can’t see that as taking advantage then what can I tell you? With such a “dina d’malchusadige above all” mentality you are simply a mindless sheep in the herd following the liberal government’s skewed mentality.

  76. All you liberals shedding tears at how “little” these illegal cleaning ladies are getting paid, you are so naive. These illegals live on a MUCH higher standard here in the USA than the countries they came from. And generally, if they have no kids or if they have families waiting for them in the countries they came from, they continuously wire back home money until they have a nice size amount to help them build a beautiful house and buy other luxuries in their countries and they then go back.

    Other illegal’s who had their kids in the USA, also live on a much higher standard than the countries they came from and their kids receive free schooling and other benefits as citizens, unlike frum families who pay exhorbitant amounts for tuition.

    Stop feeling sorry for these illegals and also stop with the constant hiring of their salaries. It’s plain rishus to other frum families who can barely scrape together the $12 an hour for cleaning help which is a must for large families.

  77. I am still waiting for someone to explain exactly how the cleaning lady “took advantage” of OP. She showed up, did her job (well enough, apparently, that her employer did not want to fire her deapite all the supposed flaws), and found out that she was legally entitled to additional money that her employer should have been paying all along. For what reason should she have let this money go, when she is legally entitled to it?

  78. Kylas,

    When your entire job and being was illegal and you got paid and treated well, trying to exploit that very same legality system to your advantage is the same when Hamas uses the UN to claim Israel for Human rights.

    I can’t comprehend what is so difficult to understand here.

    If one wanted to pay the full amount they could have hired someone legally, the only reason you were hired is because you are indeed illegal.

    If they keep this up, they will find themselves without anything, so in the long run, it is not even benefiting them in any way.

    These lawyers are just in to make a few quick bucks..

  79. Philosopher,
    1.I was not talking about a law contrary to Torah. In any case, your argument is a non sequitur. It is based on the logical fallacy “post hoc ergo propter hoc” (after this, therefore because of this). BTW, it seems that a Jew who rebels against a non-Jewish government (although Rav Schachter says that a democracy is a partnership between Jews and non-Jews) is an outlaw in the full sense of the word (Moed Katan 26a).
    2. If she was not aware of the minimum wage before she made the agreement it was a mekach taut. All labor agreements are subject to minhag hamedina.
    3. If you are so frum you should advocate hiring kids from financially strapped Jewish homes and paying them decent wages and benefits.

    G, you are right. A certain group even hires them to dress in Chassidic garb and demonstrate against Israel.

  80. G, comparing cleaning ladies to the Hamas is really sick. Moreover, as CTL pointed out, the writer does not have clean hands. He looked to take advantage of this woman so that he could cheat the government.

  81. GAON, nobody is arguing that the cleaning lady was an illegal immigrant and should be deported. However, labor protections DO extend to the undocumented immigrants and the maid did the work for which she is claiming overtime.