Pinay domestic worker leads wage theft campaign vs. NY socialite employer

By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Oct. 31, 2014

NEW YORK – Filipino domestic worker Marichu De Sesto is accusing her former employer, New York millionaire socialite Elysa Slaine, of wage theft.

The 51-year-old employer is the ex-wife of David Slaine, a senior Wall Street trader found guilty of conspiracy and securities fraud in 2009, but turned government mole and helped prosecute more than a dozen illegal insider traders in Wall Street.

A nanny to Slaine’s only daughter, De Sesto was also responsible for cooking, cleaning, laundry and dog care at the Park Avenue home and in Slaine’s Hamptons home in the summer since 2000.

De Sesto, who worked for Slaine for 15 years, says she was unaware that she was entitled to overtime pay for allegedly working 12 to 14 hour shifts, five days a week.

She claims her employer fired her after denying a request for time off to go to a medical appointment.

“Ang gusto ko mangyari, dahil when I left my work, she had to pay me that two weeks, but hindi niya ako binayaran,” said De Sesto. “Basta sinabi niya sa akin na, ‘I don’t want anything of your stuff here in my house.’”

No arrangement could be met between the two, and the employer fired her on the spot and said that she should pack up her things and not be there when she comes back.

Together with dozens of domestic workers and supporters, De Sesto led a march to Slaine’s Park Avenue home to deliver a letter of demand for unpaid wages.

“We’ll be back here everyday until she pays,” said Leah Obias, Damayan Workers Association. “We’re going to continue a long term campaign, a publicity campaign, until Elyse Slaine – wage thief – pays Marichu her wages.”

Even Slaine’s former driver, Anthony G., says he was recently let go for asking about his alleged unpaid overtime.

“I’d like to be paid for all my overtime hours that I put during winter and spring,” said Anthony G., “and she said, ‘you’re not getting nothing.’”

Balitang America was able to reach Slaine by phone. In a brief conversation, Slaine says she has not yet decided whether to grant an interview with ABS-CBN News at this time.

Protesters say they are hoping Slaine will settle De Sesto’s unpaid wages and overtime pay, otherwise she will be forced to file a civil case against Slaine to recover her lost wages.

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