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Celebrity employment lawsuit alleges disputes about overtime pay

Florida has more than its share of immigrant workers, both legal and illegal. Because of cultural and language barriers, immigrants are often victims of employment abuses such as wage-and-hour law violations and other illegal workplace behaviors perpetrated by employers.

But many immigrants also tend to take jobs in their clients' homes, including nannying and housekeeping. It is usually more difficult to keep track of hours and pay in these positions, because the employees sometimes live with their employers. Nonetheless, it is important to obey labor laws and pay any and all employees fairly.

According to recent news reports, actress Sharon Stone is currently facing a lawsuit in California, filed by the former live-in nanny to her children and housekeeper. The plaintiff, who is Filipino, worked for Stone from 2006 until she was fired by the actress in 2011.

According to the lawsuit, Stone allegedly fired the nanny when she discovered the woman had accepted overtime pay, even though state law requires overtime pay for any non-salaried worker who puts in more than 40 hours per week or more than 8 hours per day. Stone allegedly asked for the money back, calling it "stealing."

The lawsuit also alleges that the nanny was subjected to racial discrimination and a hostile work environment in the form of derogatory comments. The actress allegedly criticized the woman for her religious beliefs and her accent, going so far as to instruct her not to talk in front of the children so that they would "not talk like you."

The woman's attorney said: "By her conduct, the actress made [my client] feel as if her ethnicity was offensive and would somehow adversely affect her children's upbringing. My client felt she was powerless to stop the behavior."

This lawsuit still needs to be heard in court. Therefore, allegations are still just allegations. Nonetheless, the fact that this lawsuit involves a celebrity employer has thrust it into the national spotlight. Hopefully, this national attention will shed light on the frequent employment abuses faced by many immigrants, as well as any employees who work in residential settings.

Source: L.A. Times, "Sharon Stone forbade nanny to read Bible at home, suit says," Andrew Blankstein, May 23, 2012

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