Maids and other domestic help have always faced a host of problems when it comes to their employment rights. These problems range from separation from their children, heartache and in some cases, abuse and exploitation.
In many countries, they are not respected as individuals.
But slavery in America?
A New York woman, millionaire and socialite Annie George is on trial and facing federal criminal charges for allegedly keeping a domestic servant in a “forced labor situation” within her 30,000-square-foot Llenroc mansion in Rexford.
Less than a week after a federal judge dismissed the case against George, she has been re-indicted.
According to CBS 6 in Albany, the slave, Valsamma Mathai, 49, was kept at George’s estate against her will for six-and-a-half years. During her time in upstate New York, the undocumented illegal immigrant is testifying that she was forced to work seven days a week, for more than 12 hours a day.
George’s 34-room property has an indoor swimming pool, 15 fireplaces, a helicopter pad, glass elevator and 24-karat gold ceilings. You would think with so much extravagance and space that George would provide ample accommodations for her help, but that wasn’t the case. Mathai had to sleep in a walk-in closet.
She was required to slumber in the small space in a bedroom shared by George’s three daughters because she apparently needed to be near the children at night.
Mathai told federal agents that while at the 12-acre estate, she received no sick or personal time and never offered medical treatment.
She worked for Annie George and her late husband (who died in a plane crash in 2009). Before his death, the husband offered Mathai a job and promised to pay her $1,000 a week for her work — but didn’t. Once the family realized she was in the states without a passport, they decided to exploit her.
Mathai’s dilemma was brought to light soon after her son tipped off authorities.
The National Human Trafficking Resource Center then contacted federal immigration agents last year about the issue and they took action. Investigators have determined that the woman, who barely spoke English, came from India and was only paid 85 cents an hour during her 67 month stint in captivity, which totaled a mere $29,000.
George has been charged with Harboring an Illegal Alien for Financial Gain with Forfeiture Allegeation, a felony, which has a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.