A Houston couple was accused of enslaving a nanny in Texas. The accusations have brought more attention to a growing problem: Approximately 2 million domestic workers -- most of whom are working as nannies and maids -- are being illegally employed under slave-like conditions in the United States. Because these workers are usually isolated and undocumented immigrants, it is common for them to be abused.
The couple accused of enslaving the worker lives in Katy, Texas, a suburb of Houston. The nanny is from Nigeria. The parents have been accused of not paying her for two years while she took care of their five children. She was supposed to be paid $100 per month. Last October, an anti-trafficking group helped the nanny escape the home. Unfortunately, stories like these are not uncommon in the United States.
Human Trafficking Hotline Received 6,000 Phone Calls in 2015
According to one group that is fighting against human trafficking, their hotline received 6,000 phone calls last year, representing a 10 percent rise from 2014. Most of the cases involved victims of sex trafficking.
Because live-in servants at homes work out of the public eye, it is easy for them to be abused. It also makes it hard to know how many people are being forced into slavery like this around the country. These servants perform duties like caring for the elderly, nanny jobs and house cleaning.
Slave-Like Working Conditions Are Illegal
Surprisingly, the Fair Labor Standards Act doesn't cover live-in domestic servants, so it is difficult for them to seek minimum wage protections and other common benefits like vacation time. Even worse, though, in the case of foreign workers, a lot of times they have their passports seized by their employers, and this makes it harder for them to escape their jobs. In one survey of domestic workers, 23 percent were found to be receiving under minimum wage. Among live-in workers, 67 percent received under minimum wage. Sixty-five percent had no health insurance and 20 percent reported going hungry within the last 30 days. Although some of them are not required to pay for lodging, this is clearly unfair.
Slave-like working conditions like this are illegal and unfair, no matter who you are or what your circumstances are. If you are currently trapped in your employment and do not know how to get out of the situation, seek assistance from an attorney immediately.
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