Couple Allegedly Let Kids Beat Up Undocumented Nanny

Written by Esther Yu-Hsi Lee

Undocumented Chilean nanny Felicitas del Carmen Villanueva Garnica filed a lawsuit this week against a New York City socialite couple who she alleges forced her to work 12-hour days and allowed their children to beat her, according to the New York Post.

Villanueva’s lawsuit charges that the couple’s treatment amounted to “involuntary servitude.” They reneged on their promise to provide a steady $10-an-hour paycheck, health insurance, and basic needs like food and shelter, instead underpaying her at $2 an hour, locking her in her room, and denying her medication. She also claimed that her employers gave her an illegal passport to America.

Although domestic workers are sometimes forced to work more than they are promised, undocumented immigrants like Villanueva are more at risk to be exploited for their vulnerability and supposed inability to report unsafe working conditions to law enforcement. The Post story indicates that Villanueva returned back to the family after she found the Chilean Consulate closed when she tried to report the abuses that she suffered. Like many undocumented immigrants, she most likely did not go to local law enforcement out of fear of deportation.

In all, 23 percent of domestic workers report being paid less than the minimum wage, and 25 percent of live-in workers say their employers have prevented them from getting an uninterrupted five hours of sleep a night. Fewer than two percent receive retirement benefits.

In 2010, New York became the first state to pass a basic labor bill of rights for domestic workers which includes nannies, caregivers, and home health workers, allowing for the right to overtime pay, a day of rest every seven day, and three paid days of rest each year. But undocumented immigrants who make up a large population of domestic workers are excluded from such guarantees, so it is not surprising that people like Villanueva are subjected to wage theft.

Hawaii recently became the second state to pass such a bill, but it seems that domestic worker rights are hard to come by in other states: California’s version of the bill was vetoed last year.

This post was originally published at ThinkProgress.


Photo from Thinkstock

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Fred Hoekstra
Fred Hoekstra2 years ago

Thank you ThinkProgress, for Sharing this!

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson2 years ago


Alice Mullen
Alice Mullen2 years ago

Interesting comments. It's easy to take these things at face-value and not look further into them to gain a better understanding of the story. A good reminder

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill2 years ago

There is too much of this happening. Parents need to take control of their kids! Be the Parents! Parents are NOT supposed to be the kids friends but their parents! So act like it and control your kids! Children want boundaries, they need them to feel safe.

Mari Garcia
Mari Garcia2 years ago

the poor woman! Those two asshole "employers" deserve jail time and to pay her back wages and damages.

V Madonna Schizoid
Past Member 2 years ago


Christine Stewart

Terrible. The adults do not realize they are only hurting their children when they allow them to be jerks to others. The kids will grow up to be horrible people, and will treat their parents just as badly when it comes time to look for a nursing home!

Ernie Miller
william Miller2 years ago

how sad and there are many other women in even worse conditions

Bill Eagle
Bill Eagle2 years ago

This may or may not be true.

Loo Samantha
Loo sam2 years ago