Texas Home Care Worker Wins Settlement in Case Alleging Employer Failed to Act to Curb Harassment by Patient's Son

A McAllen woman has won a financial settlement in a lawsuit charging her employers with failing to protect her from sexual harassment and then firing her when she reported the abuse.Lawyers for Carmen Garza, who worked as a home care provider, say the settlement represents a significant win for domestic services employees such as nannies and house cleaners, who they say may be especially vulnerable to harassment and fearful of repercussions should they complain."Ms. Garza's case highlights the systemic problems that domestic workers face all too often in their struggle to make a living wage and support their families in a safe, albeit isolated, environment," said attorney Kathryn Youker of Texas RioGrande Legal Aid.The settlement is approximately a year's worth of pay for Garza, who worked for IPH Primary Home Care from January 2013 to October 2017. She earned about $9 an hour.In the U.S. District Court case, filed in the Southern District of Texas, Garza claimed she was inappropriately touched and repeatedly harassed by a patient's son in the McAllen home where she worked. She said the company failed to act even after she presented the owners with a recording of the man's suggestive remarks.The company also refused to honor her requests to be reassigned, the suit claimed, and eventually fired her when she filed a police report. She also accused the company of failing to properly pay her for overtime.Attorneys for IPH could not be reached Friday evening. A 2018 study commissioned by Rio Grande Valley agency Fuerza del Valle Workers Center and the National Domestic Workers Alliance found that such workers commonly experience poor work conditions, and that nearly a quarter experience wage theft."More than two-thirds of the women and men assisted by our legal resources identify as low-wage workers," said director Sharyn Tejani of the TIME'S UP Legal Defense Fund, which procures legal assistance for those who experience workplace harassment. "Those who work in unmonitored, domestic environments need to know they have rights and that the agencies that place them have responsibilities to protect them."  Continue reading...

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