Domestic Workers:
Human Rights Abuses and
Discrimination in the Workforce




Marissa Beach
To: Commissioners of Washington State Human Rights Commission (WSHRC)
  Cc: Washington State Labor and Industries (L&I)
  ...
Part II: History of Discrimination
                 o                                                          !#
        ...
affect their job and housing status. The majority (68 percent) of those who worry about
deportation; and the majority of t...
cross-cultural miscommunication, and lack of trust often rooted by fear between vulnerable
populations and State agencies....
against employees based upon their national origin, including
‘foreign’ appearance or accent, with respect to hiring, firi...
accompanied the Department of Social and Health Services) of 46 Latina daycare workers in
Mattawa, Washington, a town larg...
2). Nationwide, according to the International Labour Organization, the majority of domestic
workers are females.

       ...
California and New York

Few qualitative studies exist on the working conditions of the often called ‘hidden industry’ of
...
“It is unlawful to
                                                                            discriminate based upon
Yet...
Figures 5 and 6: Mean Hourly and Annual Wages for Domestic Workers


                       Mean!Hourly!Wages!for!Domestic...
Among the major goals listed in L&I’s 2009-2013 Strategic Plan are:

   ! “Make Washington workplaces safer,

   ! “Protec...
! “Roughly 87% of low-income households experience a civil legal problem each year,
      ! “Low-income people face 88% of...
Criteria: Equity, Cultural Competency, and Public Accountability

This option would be a disservice to the very people WSH...
other cultures, partnering with ethnically diverse organizations would prove high in allocating
services equitably to vuln...
Pro m
     oblem                      Cr
                                 riteria
                                       a...
Appendix I: Factors of Vulnerability


                                                  VULNERABILTY MATRIX


       Cont...
Appendix IIxxxv


                                             LAWS PROHIBITING DISCRIMINATION

Law                       ...
Endnotes


i
 Lapham, Susan. “We the American…Foreign Born.” U.S. Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics
Adminis...
xxi
       U.S. Census Bureau (see footnote in graphs)
xxii
        http://www.bls.gov/oes/oes_arch.htm
xxiii
        http...
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Domestic Workers: Human Rights Abuses and Discrimination in the Workforce

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An MPA essay written for a policy analysis course at the University of Washington to shine light on labor conditions and abuses of domestic workers--and policy recommendations for possible solutions.

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Domestic Workers: Human Rights Abuses and Discrimination in the Workforce

  1. 1. Domestic Workers: Human Rights Abuses and Discrimination in the Workforce Marissa Beach
  2. 2. To: Commissioners of Washington State Human Rights Commission (WSHRC) Cc: Washington State Labor and Industries (L&I) From: Marissa Beach, Junior Policy Analyst and Human Rights Activist Date: December 10, 2008 Re: Policy recommendations for workforce discrimination of immigrant domestic workers Executive Summary In this memo, I provide a context for policy recommendations to mitigate discrimination of domestic workers in Washington State using vulnerability factors as the overarching framework. Although live-in domestic workers are perhaps in a more vulnerable situation, evidence shows that those who work in private households are also vulnerable to discrimination and abuse in the workforce. Vulnerability factors place domestic workers in Washington State in a disadvantageous position to seek redress for employer abuse and discrimination due to race, national origin, socioeconomic status, and gender. Although this memo uses the term “immigrant,” the evidence gathered to support my argument for intervention relies largely on data on the Latino/Hispanic population, which is the second largest foreign-born population in Washington State after Asians, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.i Part I: Problem Statement According to Human Rights Watch, domestic workers worldwide face physical, psychological, and sexual abuse, labor exploitation, forced confinement in the workplace, non-payment of wages, and “excessively long working hours with no rest days.”ii According to the report, worldwide, migrant domestic workers are especially vulnerable to human rights abuses from both their employers and in some countries abused at job trainings, departure, entry, and return to and from their countries. In California and New York, research shows that 33 to 38 percent of domestic workers interviewed were abused by their employers, while the large majority lacked livable wages and wages for over-time.iii Domestic workers are among a handful of occupations excluded from the National Labor Relations Act’s (NLRA) definition of “employee”iv and thus largely excluded from most basic labor rights such as meal breaks, paid over time, the right to join a union, and so forth. In addition, domestic workers are vulnerable to a myriad of poor working conditions that leave them vulnerable to discrimination in the workforce (see Appendix I, Vulnerability Factors Matrix). “I couldn’t go out for even one second I wasn’t allowed to leave the house [alone] at all. [The family] told me that if I went outside, the police would arrest me because I did not have my papers [with me]. They said that without a green card, the police would arrest. [They said] America is bad and that it would be bad if I went outside as a single woman, so I never went outside. I was like a bird in a cage.” --Rokeya Akhatar, Bangladeshi Domestic Worker in U.S., Human Rights Watch report, 2006
  3. 3. Part II: History of Discrimination o !# ! “It “ was cle even t a ear to Despite t fact that millions of i the m immigrant pr rofessionals and seven-ye ear-old, th hat internatio students are encouraged to (and in fact do) onal s d brown peeople didnn’t temporar and/or pe rily ermanently r reside in the United Stat e tes; belong here” in Ne ew and that t United States boasts among the l the S largest ethni ically diverse p populations, certain popu ulations have confronted e d York C in the City numerou human and civil rights violations. Specifically us d s y, 1960 “I do 0s. groups su as minor uch rities, wome refugees a immigra en, and ants remembe the whi er ite have been largely exc cluded from labor protec m ction laws bo oth people an the sno p nd ooty v nation- a statewide Even whe these grou have law and e. en ups ws loo oks.” written to protect the in practic and thus e o em, ce enforcement t, these law have often been overlooked or under-enforced ws n d, which ha resulted in innumerab clashes b ave i ble between thos se --“Carla,” nanny i in seeking rredress and protection from the State (vulnerable p e e NYC quot in “Ho N ted ome populatio and thos enforcing juxtaposing laws and ons) se g g Is I Where the Work Is” k societal n norms (the State, i.e. fed S deral and stat governme te ents). (2 2006) Historica evidence suggests th the majo al hat ority of dommestic "$ " workers in the Uni ited States since the turn of the 20th e Century— not, before—have been im —if b e mmigrants a and/or women o color who have exper of o rienced discrrimination d to due race, gen nder, socioec conomic statu or a com us, mbination of tthese. Societal norms and co-existin laws an policies have d ng nd required both federal and state agencies to enforce often e times coontradicting responsibiliities. Althouugh data on the n vi current la abor conditio of dome ons estic workers in Washin s ngton State is limited, historical data regarding d discriminatio of on immigran and var nts rious survey including anecdotal data ys, g l from C CASA Latin vii suggest that t na, the numbe ofer vulnerability factors and looph s holes in lab laws ex bor xclude domestic workers fro protectio from hum rights ab c om on man buses. Therefore, domestic workers are vulnerable to physica and e e al psycholoogical abuse sexual ha e, arassment, r racism and other forms of discriminati in the wo ion orkforce. Accordin to a Pew Hispanic Su ng urvey of Lattinos’ percep ptions of discri imination, nearly one-i n in-ten Hispa anics (8 peercent native-bo and 10 percent immi orn p igrants) repo that in the past ort e year poli or other authorities have questi ice ioned them about migration sta viii Over half of tho surveyed say their imm atus. ose they wor a lot (40 percent) or w rry worry some (an addition 17 nal percent) “that they themselves, a family member or a close t friend mmay be de eported.” H Hispanics e experience racial nation and worry abou how thei ethnicity may discrimin ut ir
  4. 4. affect their job and housing status. The majority (68 percent) of those who worry about deportation; and the majority of those who have experienced job and housing difficulties (63 and 71 percent respectively) because of their ethnicity say that Latinos’ situation in the country is worse today (2007) than it was a year ago. These statistics show that fear and distrust contribute to the overall lives of Hispanics living in the United States, whether in the workforce or at home—or for domestic workers the “workplace” is in the home. In the past, domestic workers were excluded from discriminatory practices when their services and thus their work favored those in power, i.e. White or Caucasian men. After the U.S. Supreme Court validated racial deed restrictions in 1926, several King County neighborhoods exempted domestic workers from discriminatory housing practices if their employer was of the “White or Caucasian race” and if the “servant” resided in his/her home.ix Numerous neighborhoods in Seattle excluded Ethiopians, Japanese, Chinese, Filipinos, Hebrews, and more generally, persons of “Asiatic, African or Negro blood” from leasing, renting, and/or purchasing property.x Although I have defined in this memo “domestic workers” to include various occupations, “domestic servants” is still used for one categorical occupation to describe duties performed in private households, classified by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and thus L&I definitions. The continual use of the word insinuates a power imbalance between employer and worker, dating back to the racial tensions between White employers and domestic servants who were “Another domestic worker on and continue to be largely women of color, a temporary work visa in the according to Domestic Workers United (DWU), a United States told [us] she New-York based advocacy organization.xi was so frightened by what her employer told her that she Anecdotal data from CASA Latina suggests that didn’t go out, even on her day the word “domestic servants” is inappropriate to off, for two-and-a-half years.” use to describe occupations of domestic workers.xii However, because it is the legal term --Human Rights Watch used to describe workers who work in private Report, 2006 households, in a training for CASA Latina’s Household Helpers Program in Seattle, Washington, Columbia Legal Services (CLS) referred to the women’s occupation as such, “servants.” During the guest speakers’ presentation, Coordinator Veronique Facchinelli interrupted the training to inform them to discontinue using the term. A week later, CLS apologized to the group of women. Nonetheless, national and statewide occupational categories still list “domestic servants” as a legal term, which can affect how state agencies treat domestic workers in discrimination and employer abuse accusations. In extreme forms, these clashes have resulted in violent confrontations, deportations, repatriation, internment camps, and group racism that result in violence against vulnerable populations. In softer non-violent forms, these clashes have resulted in lawsuits against the State,
  5. 5. cross-cultural miscommunication, and lack of trust often rooted by fear between vulnerable populations and State agencies. Although at first glance, lack of trust and existing fear may not seem like factors federal and state agencies should consider, these factors hinder a State’s ability to (1) protect all workers from discrimination, as stated in various anti-discriminatory U.S. laws (see Appendix II); (2) serve historically vulnerable populations through equitable allocation of State services; and (3) meet workforce and economic growth projections. There are a number of factors that place domestic workers in a vulnerable position who neglect to report violation of their rights (see Appendix III). These “vulnerability factors” make it challenging for L&I to effectively address employer abuse and thus effectively enforce labor rights for all workers while simultaneously complying with anti-discrimination laws. In addition, lack of mutual cultural understanding may further exacerbate the miscommunications between State agencies and vulnerable populations. Part III: Why Intervene? The Evidence 1) Minority growth population projections and foreign-born population statistics have similar demands but different needs Both Native born and foreign-born Hispanics have been the fastest growing and largest ethnic group in the United States since 1970.xiii Although the majority of immigrants before 1970 came from Europe to the United States, post-1970, the large majority came from Latin America. In 1900, 84.9 percent of immigrants came from Europe, whereas in 1990, 42.5 percent came from Latin America, which became the biggest foreign-born sector at 42.5 percent, double the next highest foreign-born group that year, Asia, at 25.2 percent.xiv In 1990, more than 1 in 5 of the U.S.-foreign born came from Mexico, a group that had the lowest wages and lowest educational attainment compared to the top foreign born populations that year. This ‘melting pot’ has contributed to diverse groups of populations coinciding. At the same time, as a result of these populations, many nonprofits, organizations, and institutions have to pay more attention to cultural differences in planning and implementing social services and other governmental programs. 2.) Women and children need legal services most Vulnerability factors and protection from discrimination for domestic workers is a public policy problem because it juxtaposes the tensions between existing labor laws to protect employees and those excluded from the definition of “employee” due to occupation, immigration status, knowledge asymmetry and/or a combination of these. Despite that according to Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE), "employers are reminded that it is unlawful to discriminate
  6. 6. against employees based upon their national origin, including ‘foreign’ appearance or accent, with respect to hiring, firing, and the terms and conditions of employment,”xv 33 percent of L&I’s Mission: domestic workers in the California survey reported that “What this startling immigration status did indeed contribute to employer abuse.xvi document tells us is that “We support the state’sthe battles these women endure economic well-being by The majority of the women in both surveys are the primary extend far beyond the rights protecting the safety of income earners of their families but overall as a whole, foreign- of labor. They are immersed born Latin American women in the U.S. tend to earn less than Washington’s workers, in a struggle for human their male counterparts in household income and have fewer providing benefits to rights and dignity; for years of education. injured workers and social immigrants’ rights and ensuring fair wages and of justice; for the dismantling quality and globalization.” racism industry services.” 3.) All workers no matter country of origin have the right to work free from discrimination --Robin Kelley, William There is an existing power imbalance between employers and WHRC’s Mission: B. Ransford, domestic workers (mostly immigrants) and a lack of labor laws Professor of Cultural and enforcement mechanisms to prevent employer abuse. In and Historical Studies, “To eliminate and prevent addition to employer abuse, immigrants are not safe from ICE Columbia University, discrimination of “Home is speaking through the work raids despite legal documentation. For example, in February fair application of the law, Where the Work Is” 2008, ICE officials raided Micro Solutions Enterprises in California and arrested 138 employees for immigration the efficient 2006 of report, use questioning, although 114 (or 83 percent) of whom were U.S. resources, and the citizens or legal U.S. residents. As a result, the Center for Human establishment of Rights and Constitutional Law filed a lawsuit against the U.S. partnerships with the government on behalf of the legal employees to seek damages community.” from the wrongful detentions.xvii Wrongful detentions are a result of failed national and state policies and contradicting ICE policies that inhibit immigrant Domestic Workers workers to work free of fear, discrimination, and abuse. United Mission: Employers who physically and/or psychologically abuse domestic workers have an advantage because of their status and “Organizing for power, relationship with the state. According to the Pew Hispanic respect, fair labor Center, half of all Latinos in the United States say the situation for Latinos is worse than it was a year ago and 76 percent standards and to help disapprove of work raids.xviii Washington is no stranger to such build a movement to end work raids that create fear among immigrant workers. exploitation and oppression for all.” 5.) To mitigate civil and class-action lawsuits of discrimination A $2 million class-action lawsuit against the State of Washington was settled in August 2008, a case resulting from an unlawful ICE work raid (officials disguised as translators who
  7. 7. accompanied the Department of Social and Health Services) of 46 Latina daycare workers in Mattawa, Washington, a town largely composed of farm workers.xix Children didn’t know what had happened to their mothers since a couple were arrested from their worksite and thus left virtually unattended. DSHS seized numerous original business records and personal documents without a judicially reviewed warrant, according to Columbia Legal Services. Anecdotal evidence from CASA Latina shows that immigrant workers, especially female domestic workers, need protection from discrimination both in the workforce and on the streets from state authorities; and need to increase the enforcement mechanisms so workers can feel safe. As of March 2006, there are approximately 12 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, 60 percent of whom are employed in various sectors (see graph, right) and 66 percent of whom have lived in the U.S. for 10 years or less, while 40 percent, five years or less. Of those undocumented, about half are adult males, 35 percent adult females, and 16 percent are children.xx Vulnerability factors and lack of workforce protection matters because the problem juxtaposes the tensions between existing labor laws and anti-discrimination laws to protect employees and those excluded from the definition of “employee” due to occupation and size of employment force and the numerous anti-discrimination laws largely do not apply to domestic workers because they are usually hired on an individual basis and thus do not fall under the “15 or more employees” rule. Figure 1: U.S. Census Bureau Estimates In Washington State, Washington!State!Foreign"Born! the largest foreign- born population since Population!2002"2007 2002 is from Asia 350,000 310,793 and the second 300,000 largest is from Latin 247,942 247,859 America (see Figure 250,000 Population!Size 1).xxi According to Asia the U.S. Department 200,000 173,779 Latin!Amer. 139,220 of Labor, there were 150,000 138,148 Europe approximately 54,590 100,000 Northern!Amer. domestic workers in 48,333 42,885 Washington State in 50,000 Africa 2006.xxii By 2018, Oceania L&I projects the 0 number of child care 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 workers alone to Year reach more than 46,000 (see Figure
  8. 8. 2). Nationwide, according to the International Labour Organization, the majority of domestic workers are females. Figure 2: Foreign-Born Populations by Country Largest!Foreign"Born!Groups!by!Country!of! Birth:!1980!and!1990 4,298 4,500 4,000 Population!Size!(000) 3,500 3,000 2,500 2,199 2,000 1,500 1,000 1980 500 1990 0 Countries Several sources cite forced migration as the reason why domestic workers come to the United States to work for low wages. According to the DAMAYAN Migrant Workers Association—an advocacy organization that promotes the rights and welfare of Filipino migrant workers based in New York and New Jersey—“ninety percent of the 1,700 Filipino women who leave the Philippines everyday become domestic workers in foreign countries.”xxiii Although domestic workers data based on race was not available at the time of this memo for Washington State, statistics on foreign-born population, coupled with national demographics of domestic workers could lead state agencies to surmise that statewide demographics are similar. What is known, however, is that national and state anti-discriminatory laws for the most part exclude domestic workers under their protection either because (a) domestic workers are hired in numbers less than 15 (the national and state minimum to be protected); (b) the increasing concern, fear and distrust among immigrant communities, as shown particularly in the Latino population, toward state agencies can contribute to information asymmetry; and/or (c) society does not value domestic work as “real work.”xxiv
  9. 9. California and New York Few qualitative studies exist on the working conditions of the often called ‘hidden industry’ of domestic workers. However, two studies in San Francisco, California and New York City, New York show significant concern for workplace safety (or lack thereof) for household workers, the large majority of whom are immigrants (99 percent of California respondents were born outside of the United States).xxv The following chart summarizes the results of both studies. Survey Information California New York # of survey respondents 240 547 Physically or verbally abused 38% (an additional 35% didn’t respond 33% by employer to this question) Lack of overtime pay 90% N/A Earn low wages (<$14.26) 67% 50% Non-livable wages 93% 87% Immigration status contributed 33% N/A to abusive actions Primary income earner 54% 59% ! 6 yrs worked in industry 31% N/A Despite that according to Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE), "employers are reminded that it is unlawful to discriminate against employees based upon their national origin, including ‘foreign’ appearance or accent, with respect to hiring, firing, and the terms and conditions of employment.”xxvi Of those surveyed in California, 33 percent of domestic workers reported that immigration status did indeed contribute to employer abuse.xxvii There is an existing power imbalance between employers and domestic workers (mostly immigrants) and a lack of labor laws and enforcement mechanisms to prevent employer abuse. In addition to employer abuse, immigrants are not safe from ICE work raids despite legal documentation. For example, in February 2008, ICE officials raided Micro Solutions Enterprises in California and arrested 138 employees for immigration questioning, although 114 (or 83 percent) were U.S. citizens or legal U.S. residents. As a result, the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government on behalf of the legal employees to seek damages from the wrongful detentions.xxviii
  10. 10. “It is unlawful to discriminate based upon Yet, despite these lawsuit and despite the vast number of laws citizenship or immigration protecting female workers from discrimination, domestic workers status against U.S. citizens or nationals, refugees, Figure 3: Industry Population, Washington State asylees, or lawful permanent residents, with respect to hiring, firing, or Employed!Domestic!Workers,! employment verification.” Washington!State --Immigration and 18,500 Child!Care!Workers 16,500 Nationality Act's 14,500 anti-discrimination #!of!Workers 12,500 provision, 8 U.S.C.§ Maids!&! 10,500 Housekeeping! 1324b. 8,500 Cleaners 6,500 4,500 Personal!&!Home! 2,500 Care!Aids Home!Health!Aides Year The Washington State anti-discrimination law gives inhabitants of Washington the “right to be Figure 4: Industry Population, U.S. free from discrimination at work, in housing, in a Domestic!Workers!in!the!United! public accommodation, or States!(thousands) when seeking credit and insurance.” 100% 17 26 90% Male!Cleaners!&! --WSHRC website 80% Servants 70% 386 474 Female!Cleaners!&! 60% Servants 50% 11 Male!Child!Care!Wkrs 40% 7 30% 329 Female!Child!Care!Wkrs 20% 268 10% 0% 30 11 Male!Housekeepers!&! Butlers 1991 2000
  11. 11. Figures 5 and 6: Mean Hourly and Annual Wages for Domestic Workers Mean!Hourly!Wages!for!Domestic!Workers!in! Washington!State $11.00! $10.00! Child!Care!Workers Hourly!Wage $9.00! Maids!&!Housekeeping! Cleaners $8.00! Personal!&!Home!Care!Aids $7.00! Home!Health!Aides 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 Year Mean!Annual!Wages!of!Domestic!Workers,! Washington!State $21,500! Child!Care!Workers Annual!Income $20,000! $18,500! Maids!&!Housekeeping! $17,000! Cleaners $15,500! Personal!&!Home!Care!Aids $14,000! 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 Home!Health!Aides Year Part IV: Criteria and Objectives Although both L&I and WSHRC have adopted goals and strategic plans for the upcoming years, it is important to recognize that the underlying assumptions and/or national labor definitions of standard occupational categories limit the overarching missions of each agency by excluding domestic workers, a sector composed of a growing immigrant/foreign-born population in Washington State. In addition, the historical context of discrimination of vulnerable populations and the vulnerability factors (as listed in Appendix I) that contribute to the socio-economic and racial power imbalances between employers and domestic workers should be integrated into the decision-making process of policy options.
  12. 12. Among the major goals listed in L&I’s 2009-2013 Strategic Plan are: ! “Make Washington workplaces safer, ! “Protect public safety and property; support the economic well-being of individuals and businesses; ! “Achieve high performance through efficiency, innovation and accountability.”xxix Among the major goals listed in WSHRC’s 2006-2011 Strategic Plan are: " ! “Adopt suitable rules and regulations to eliminate and prevent discrimination, ! “Issue publications and findings that promote goodwill and advance the agency’s mission, ! “Conduct and publish technical studies that further the agency’s mission, and ! “Foster good community relations through seminars, training, and educational programs.”xxx Considering L&I and WSHRC’s separate but overlapping missions and strategic plans, we will define both our objectives and criteria as (i) equity, (ii) cultural competency, and (iii) public accountability. Of the 1,065 new complaints of discrimination received during FY 2002-03 at WSHRC, 82 percent were in employment, 11percent were in housing and 7 percent were regarding places of public accommodation. Minorities and people with disabilities have unemployment rates that correlate with WSHRC staff’s caseload: “25% of complaints filed allege national origin or race employment discrimination and 29% allege disability discrimination.” xxxi With the central intake office in Olympia, it is important to collaborate with regional offices and other state agencies to outreach to historically vulnerable populations, particularly female immigrant domestic workers, to assure equity of services without degrading the quality of investigations and over-burdening staff with unrealistic caseloads. Equity 1. Equity: the existence of policies to equally serve vulnerable populations with agency services, defined as low-income, immigrant, refugee, and other cross-vulnerable populations such as low-income female immigrants. According to the Washington State Civil Needs Study:
  13. 13. ! “Roughly 87% of low-income households experience a civil legal problem each year, ! “Low-income people face 88% of their legal problems without help, ! “Women and children face more legal problems than the low-income community in general, ! “Low-income people who receive legal assistance have better outcomes and greater respect for the justice system than those who do not.”xxxii Lack of information (or misinformation) regarding services available in WSHRC may contribute to these statistics, coupled with cultural misunderstandings not limited to language barriers but including historical relationships and thus issues of trust and fear between state agencies and vulnerable populations. Cultural Competency 2. Cultural Competency: the existence of available policies to mitigate discrimination disputes in employment to underserved and historically vulnerable populations in Washington State, concentrating on female immigrant populations with limited English proficiency. Although WSHRC currently provides brochures in multiple languages, cultural competency requires more than language translation. Rather, cross-cultural understanding means that the Washington State Anti-Discrimination Law will be applied both internally and externally with consciousness of deeply-rooted beliefs of vulnerable populations, including past state initiatives that “color blindness” will solve discriminatory practices.xxxiii Public Accountability 3. Public Accountability: the enforcement and transparency of procedures and responsibilities assigned to WSHRC. Since WSHRC is a state agency, it must be held accountable to the public by accomplishing tasks that the Governor has assigned to it, particularly by investigating human rights abuses and thus discrimination employment complaints based on race, creed, national origin, sex, disability, marital status, age and Affirmative Action, as outlined under the jurisdiction in the Strategic Plan 2006-2011. In a time when anti-immigration sentiment is re-surging, your agency is responsible for ensuring that all practices and thus the “hiring and firing” of employees isn’t discriminatory. Part V: Policy Options Option 1: Status Quo – i.e. change nothing No change to current agency policies. L&I will continue to track number of household workers without regard to level of employer abuse of domestic workers and WHRC will continue to neglect to provide online information regarding domestic workers’ rights and code of conduct.
  14. 14. Criteria: Equity, Cultural Competency, and Public Accountability This option would be a disservice to the very people WSHRC seeks and (by jurisdiction) must serve. Although many specific online forms and information are available in Spanish, one has to ‘surf’ the website and read through pages of information to find any information on how to file a complaint and information related to immigrants’ rights. This is a daunting task for those unfamiliar with the usual format of institutional websites, such as low-income, elderly, and foreigners.1 Although the Strategic Plan is available online and the process of how to file a complaint is relatively easy (5 pages), it is unclear what a client can do besides wait after completing the form. That is, no timeframe is guaranteed, which affects public accountability and transparency of processes. In addition, the listed partners (although they work in the same field) are mostly state and city agencies instead of cross-sector collaboration or partnerships, which neglects much of the cultural competency criterion by reinforcing historical relationships between those who seek redress and those with the decision-making power. Option 2: Increase cross-cultural and multilingual services and disseminate information on human rights through partnerships Nonprofits such as CASA Latina, Columbia Legal Services, Washington CASH, and other ethnic-specific organizations are stakeholders in building effective dissemination of WSHRC services and processes and in seeking volunteers and internships for help with language translation and cross-cultural communication. During times of recession (now) is when WSHRC should partner with existing organizations to avoid leaving vulnerable populations while still complying with your agency’s mission to investigate discrimination complaints and enforce the Washington State Anti-discrimination Law. Criteria: Equity, Cultural Competency, and Public Accountability The current and projected increased cuts in state budgets leave state services for low-income Washington residents vulnerable to scaled back social services, including cut-back availability of the Basic Plan, during a time of recession.xxxiv It is within WSHRC’s responsibility and capacity to outreach to historical vulnerable populations such as immigrants and minorities. Including domestic workers in planning and implementing culturally-centered services would help retrocede the historical damaging relationship between state agencies and low-income female immigrant women who work in this field. Whether it is the intake phone call, the form available in another language, or staff awareness of 1 Anecdotal data from international students in the Evans School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington suggests that institutional websites that Americans or U.S.-born students can easily navigate, can be a daunting and incomprehensible task for some foreigners.
  15. 15. other cultures, partnering with ethnically diverse organizations would prove high in allocating services equitably to vulnerable populations while making them aware of WSHRC and gaining integrity while possibly improving employee morale, which has been a recent concern according to the Strategic Plan. Option 3: Advocate to change and influence public opinion on perceptions of domestic workers to value household work as ‘real work’ Cultural misconceptions and stereotypes often contribute to the anti-immigration sentiment seen in the mainstream media. Domestic workers have historically been excluded from labor laws, with the exception of the recent passage in New York of the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. Others states by comparison have worked harder at breaking stereotypes and misperceptions of the industry by: advocating and/or passing for increased protection for all employees who contribute to the economy, whether formal or informal; distributing informational pamphlets and handouts on domestic workers’ rights; and/or regulating the supply side of the industry. Criteria: Equity, Cultural Competency, and Public Accountability Although Washington State hasn’t tried to pass a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, it is possible for a reputable agency such as WSHRC to promote understanding of an industry that many people know little about. This is equitable in terms of serving the vulnerable populations; it is highly culturally competent and relevant; and it would increase the concern and make people aware that all workers have the right to be free from discrimination. Part VI: Policy Recommendation I recommend that you implement both Options II and III to simultaneously combat the roots of little or underuse of services by low-income and immigrant populations, the very clients your agency seeks to serve. This will increase awareness of rights of domestic workers through partnering with nonprofits that work daily with vulnerable populations. Using the criteria stated above (see next page), the outcomes in both the short and long term are greatly beneficial to your agency. Part VII: Conclusion In conclusion, domestic workers worldwide face a myriad of factors that contribute to their vulnerability of not receiving wages for completed work, for working in private households that is hard to regulate, and for their demographic make-up. Cross-cultural appropriate services are needed in all social services and in addressing human rights abuses of domestic workers. Race, class, gender, socio-economic status, and immigration status are among a handful of the main factors that leave female immigrant domestic workers at the whims of their employers. It is up to agencies such as the WSHRC to fully grasp the scope of discrimination in the workforce—and the pertaining solutions to solve it while keeping pace with the growing foreign-born populations that Washington State benefits from.
  16. 16. Pro m oblem Cr riteria a Ou mes utcom Short!Term:!Incre eased! repporting!of!work kforce! Equity discr rimination;!lon ng"term! decrease Workforce!discrimination n!and! domestic!work abuse!of!d kers Cross"ccultural!undersstanding,! efficie ency!of!service es,!and! Cultu ural!Competen ncy avoidance!of!misperc ceptions! &!stereotypes s Fulfillment!of!miss sion,! Public!Accountabil lity utiny!of!tax!dollars,! scru inccreased!custommer! satisfac ction!and!public!trust! in!govt
  17. 17. Appendix I: Factors of Vulnerability VULNERABILTY MATRIX Contributing Factors Contributing Actions Negative Outcomes Immigration status - documented Repatriation, deportation, arrest, work raids, Increased fear and distrust between vs. undocumented possible wrongful accusations of legal status immigrant communities and state agencies; without legal aid recourse or redress civil rights lawsuits against the State Gender - female Sexual harassment, sexual assault, physical Psychological trauma, fear in the workplace abuse, psychological threats, and rape and in public, possible severed relations with immediate family members and friends, and lower self-esteem Poverty measured by household Anti-poverty programs that exclude non-citizens, Decreased access to health services; increased income and Federal Poverty Line or undocumented workers and/or actual or reliance on hospitals as form of care; (FPL) perceived “illegal” immigration status decreased good health status Language and cultural barriers Barriers to access information, decreased Cross-cultural miscommunication, awareness of rights, and over-reliance on stereotypes and cultural misconceptions, nonprofits and/or state services for translation feelings of inferiority services Occupation as ‘domestic servant’ Exclusion from “employee” definition and Insinuating power imbalance between or ‘household employee’ various labor protection laws employer and worker, and reinforcing historical relationship between ‘servant’ and ‘master’ Race Verbal / institutional / group racism, hate crimes, Low self-esteem, perpetual racism, shy away possible violence, negative social stigma, from resources and social services when related to experiences of racism, feelings of inferiority
  18. 18. Appendix IIxxxv LAWS PROHIBITING DISCRIMINATION Law Description Enforcement Agency E.O. 11246 Prohibits covered federal contractors and subcontractors Office of Federal Contract from discriminating on basis of race, color, religion, sex Compliance Programs (OFCCP) or national origin Title VI of Civil Rights Act of 1964 Prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or Civil Rights Center national origin in programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance Title VII of Civil Rights Act of 1964 Prohibits discrimination in “hiring, promotion, discharge, Equal Employment Opportunity pay, fringe benefits, job training, classification, referral Commission (EEOC) and other aspects of employment, on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin” Freedom From Discrimination, also The right to: Washington State Human Rights known as Washington State Law (a) obtain and hold employment without discrimination; Commission (WSHRC) Against Discrimination, RCW 49.60. (b) to full enjoyment of any accommodation, advantages, facilities or privileges of any place of public resort, accommodation, assemblage, or amusement; (c) to engage in real estate transactions without discrimination; (d) to engage in credit transactions without discrimination; (e) to engage in insurance transactions or transactions with HMOs without discrimination; (f) to engage in commerce free from any discriminatory boycotts or blacklists
  19. 19. Endnotes i Lapham, Susan. “We the American…Foreign Born.” U.S. Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, Bureau of the Census. Accessed at: http://www.census.gov/population/www/socdemo/foreign/cendata.html. ii “Swept Under the Rug.” Human Rights Watch. July 25, 2006. Found at: http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2006/07/25/swept-under-rug iv “Home is Where the Work Is: Inside New York’s Domestic Work Industry.” Domestic Workers United & DataCenter, 2004. v For a U.S. historical context, see novel, “Labor Rights are Civil Rights, Mexican-American Workers in Twentieth Century America” by Zaragosa Vargas (2005). For a Washington State context, see “Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project,” found at: http://depts.washington.edu/civilr/. vi According to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and Washington State Labor and Industries (L&I), “domestic workers” isn’t considered an official occupation. Rather, the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) has an industry code for Private Households. These occupations include: “Housekeeper, housework, house cleaner”; “Servant”; “Helper, Laundry”; and “Home Care Aide.” In this memo, I will refer to “domestic workers” in terms of these occupations but will also use other data available that may or may not include all of these occupational categories. vii Centro de Ayuda Solidaria a los Amigos (CASA) Latina is a community-based organization located in Seattle, Washington that empowers Latino immigrants through educational and employment opportunities. viii http://pewhispanic.org/reports/report.php?ReportID=93 ix http://depts.washington.edu/civilr/images/innes%20arden/innis%20arden%20covenant%20lg.jpg x http://depts.washington.edu/civilr/covenants.htm xi http://www.domesticworkersunited.org/programs.php xiii See footnote i. xv http://www.ice.gov/doclib/pi/news/newsreleases/articles/wse_advisory_v27.pdf xvi “Behind Closed Doors: Working Conditions of California Household Workers.” Mujeres Unidas y Activas, Day Labor Program Women’s Collective of La Raza Centro Legal, DataCenter. March 2007. xvii http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2008-06-24-Immigration-raids_N.htm xviii http://pewhispanic.org/reports/report.php?ReportID=93 xix Beach, Marissa. “Undocumented immigrants: workers or criminals?” The Daily. 29 September 2008. <http://dailyuw.com/2008/9/29/undocumented-immigrants-workers-or-criminals/>. Pittz, Will. “Small Town Justice.” Color Lines Magazine. Winter 2003. <http://www.colorlines.com/article.php?ID=60>. xx http://pewhispanic.org/files/reports/61.pdf
  20. 20. xxi U.S. Census Bureau (see footnote in graphs) xxii http://www.bls.gov/oes/oes_arch.htm xxiii http://damayanmigrantworkers.blogspot.com/ xxiv Home is Where the Work Is: Inside New York’s Domestic Work Industry.” Domestic Workers United & DataCenter, 2004. xxv Ibid and see footnote xvi. xxvi http://www.ice.gov/doclib/pi/news/newsreleases/articles/wse_advisory_v27.pdf xxvii “Behind Closed Doors: Working Conditions of California Household Workers.” Mujeres Unidas y Activas, Day Labor Program Women’s Collective of La Raza Centro Legal, DataCenter. March 2007. xxviii http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2008-06-24-Immigration-raids_N.htm xxix http://www.lni.wa.gov/IPUB/101-085-000.pdf xxx http://www.hum.wa.gov/documents/stratpln050304.pdf xxxi http://www.hum.wa.gov/documents/stratpln050304.pdf xxxii http://www.lri.lsc.gov/needsassessment/needsassessment_detail_T293_R4.asp xxxiii http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/opinion/291051_trahant05.html xxxiv http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2008466683_healthplan04.html xxxv https://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/discrimination/ethnicdisc.htm

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