Dear Friends, For almost four years now, Pat Francois, DWU member and leader in the domestic workers movement, has been fighting for justice. Yesterday afternoon, the jury delivered its verdict in Pat’s case against her former employers, filmmaker Matthew Mazer and sports agent Sheryl Shade, after 8 days in court and almost four years in litigation. We are thrilled to share that Pat has won her claims for unpaid wages and for the assault she suffered at the hands of Matthew Mazer. For six years, Pat took loving care of Mazer's and Shade's child despite being grossly underpaid and mistreated. In December 2008, Mazer physically assaulted and verbally abused Pat, calling her a “stupid Black b****” and said that he hated her and hoped she would die a “horrible death.” For too long, Mazer and Shade refused to be held accountable for their actions. Through this entire ordeal, Pat worked tirelessly to win justice not only for herself but for domestic workers everywhere. She marched, rallied and lobbied in Albany to win recognition and rights for domestic workers, so that no one else would suffer the same abuse and exploitation. Pat shared her story countless times so that lawmakers would feel the urgency of providing domestic workers with rights and protections. Thanks to Pat, her courage and that of thoUSnds of domestic workers, New York passed the nation’s first Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. Finally, domestic workers, otherwise excluded from all other legislation providing labor protections, were recognized as real workers under the law. Everyday, domestic workers like Pat start their day early in the morning to care for their employers’ loved ones and keep their homes healthy and safe. Just treatment in the form of fair wages, benefits and respect is nothing less than what domestic workers deserve for the critical work they do. Pat’s case stands as a reminder that the courage and strength of domestic workers will always prevail. The entire DWU membership, board and staff thank you for all of your love and support. We could not have made it through this arduous journey without you. The struggle is far from over. Even this victory is incomplete as the full scope of Pat's suffering has not been accounted for, and other domestic workers are still facing abuse and exploitation. By standing together, we will continue winning until we have dignity and respect once and for all. Please visit http://www.domesticworkersunited.org for resources, updates and how you can support the domestic workers' movement for rights, respect and recognition. Thank you, Domestic Workers United
"I’ve been a proud nanny and housekeeper for the past 15 years. My last full-time job lasted six and a half years. In December 2008, it came to a violent end when I was physically abused by my employer.
I stayed in the job because I had bills to pay and my family depends on me. The little girl that I was taking care of is a wonderful little girl. She needed me as much as I needed the job.
The work that domestic workers do is very important. We do our work so that employers can do theirs. I am the voice of 200,000 of us who give our hearts and our health to take care of New York’s families.
I’m asking for your support. It’s been more than three years and justice still hasn’t been served. This is about justice not only for myself but for other abused domestic workers who have been discriminated against and treated unjustly."
- Patricia Francois, NY domestic worker
In 2010, after six years of organizing, the New York State Legislature passed the nation’s first Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. Finally, domestic workers, otherwise excluded from all other legislation providing labor protections, were recognized as real workers under the law. The New York Domestic Workers Bill of Rights ensures basic labor protections, including overtime pay, paid days off, and protection from discrimination and harassment.
But now, despite the hard-won recognition of domestic workers, Patricia has spent the last three and a half years in litigation against director Matthew Mazer and sports agent Sheryl Shade, her former employers. They have refused to be held accountable for their actions.
When Patricia tried to protect the little girl she cared for from verbal abuse by her father, Patricia’s employer Matthew Mazer, he called her a “stupid Black b****” and said that he hated her and hoped she would die a “horrible death.” No one should face this kind of abuse.
Before the New York Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, too many stories like Patricia’s went unaddressed and untold. Now, it is time for people across the United States to stand up for the domestic workers who make all other work possible.
On behalf of Patricia, Domestic Workers United is asking you to raise your voice against the injustices suffered by Pat and so many domestic workers like her. Send a strong message to Matthew Mazer and Sheryl Shade: we will no longer tolerate abuse and exploitation and you must answer for violating Pat’s dignity and rights.