SAN FRANCISCO – During a Wednesday morning press conference, Filipina domestic worker Julieta Dela Cruz Yang announced that she has filed a lawsuit against her former employers, Cameron Poetzscher, head of corporate development for Uber, and Varsha Rao, head of global operations for Airbnb, for alleged wage theft and sexual harassment.
“I am speaking up for the sake of my own dignity and so that no other Filipino migrant will not go through what I went through,” said Yang. “We are human beings and we deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.”
The 45-year-old single mother of three worked for Roa and Poetzscher, a married couple, for seven years as a live-in worker. She also looked after the couple’s two children.
Yang moved to the United States with the couple after working for them in Singapore from 2008-2013. After two more years with the couple in San Francisco she left the job in April of this year.
According to the suit, Yang said that on multiple occasions she would work for more than 10 hours a day without a break and despite all those hours she was paid a flat wage that would only account for five hours a day or $450 a week.
Yang also states in the suit that Poetzscher sexually harassed her. She claimed the harassment included nudity, comments of a sexual nature, unwanted sexual advances, and unwanted touching.
Yang and her attorneys are seeking back pay, compensatory damages, and punitive damages.
In a report by SF Weekly, a spokesperson for Poetzscher released the following statement:
“We are both deeply shocked and saddened by these allegations — which are 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. We will make no further comment about this case.”
Yang also cites how the Philippine consulate was unable to help her.
“At the front desk they told me that they have lawyer here to help,” recalled Yang. “They come like the first and third of the month. When I come back on the third week and asked where is the attorney to help my situation they said they don’t have an attorney here to help [me]. They don’t have a free attorney here. They’re not interested and they don’t want to listen to what I’m trying to tell them so I just left.”
Balitang America spoke with the Philippine consulate in San Francisco about Yang’s situation. Dep. Consul Gen. Jamie Ascalon response, the consulate would have been able to assist Yang if both parties had better communication.
Ascalon believes Yang may have been looking to receive free legal help from the Intergrated Bar of the Philippines California. Ascalon goes on to say:
“Had she expressly requested assistance or explained her situation the first time she visited the consulate, she would have been immediately referred to our Assistance to Nationals Section and there would have been no need for her to return to avail herself of the services of the free legal clinic.”
The consulate says they regret the incident took place but are taking the necessary steps to ensure that such a misunderstanding or miscommunication does not happen in the future.