"New York Passes Nation's First Domestic Worker Protection Law" CBS News

July 1, 2010 7:52 PM

Posted by CBS News Investigates

This post was written by CBS News Investigates intern Brian Mastroianni.


Deloris Wright worked for eight years as a nanny for a family in New York City. Earlier this year she was fired when she refused to work a nearly 60-hour week with no overtime.

"I was so humiliated," said Wright. "When I spoke to him about overtime, he dismissively waved his hand in my face and said, 'Don't even go there.'"

On Thursday, New York lawmakers gave final legislative approval to a bill making the nation's first domestic worker labor protection law to help domestic workers like Wright.

Gov. David Paterson said in a statement that he "will be pleased to sign it into law."

The Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights bill creates guidelines for employers of housekeepers, nannies and other workers in an industry that is unregulated and without clearly defined work benefits.

The bill includes standardized work weeks, one day off each week, three paid days off each year and overtime pay, said Bryan Clenahan, an Albany County legislator.

Groups in California and Colorado are now eyeing similar legislation.

"New York has a history of blazing the trail for labor rights," said Clenahan. "We are reclaiming the heritage for New York worker protection."

The New York bill is an attempt to "reverse 75 years of discrimination against this work force" said Priscilla Gonzalez, director of Domestic Workers United, a New York-based advocacy group.

Gonzalez said it is an industry where most of the work takes place behind the closed doors of employers' personal homes, making it easy for the mostly immigrant and female workforce to be exploited.

Wright, a nanny for 22 years, said the legislation is a step in the right direction.

"When you are doing something for these people and then see a smile on their face, we are honored to do that work," she said. "For many of us, there is no respect, no dignity in what we are doing."

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