- Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
Media Contact for Couple Pays $3,000 for Violating New Domestic Worker Law, State Wage and Hour Laws
Boston — A couple from Qatar has paid $3,000 to resolve allegations that they failed to properly pay a live-in employee for childcare services in violation of the state’s wage and hour and domestic worker laws, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.
In an example of AG Healey’s work on behalf of vulnerable populations, including domestic workers, an investigation found that Mohammed and Adeela Alyafei failed to pay minimum wage and overtime and failed to comply with the state’s Domestic Workers Bill of Rights while living in Cambridge.
“This couple exploited a vulnerable worker by withholding her hard-earned wages and threatening her with retaliation for requesting to leave,” AG Healey said. “This kind of conduct will not be tolerated in Massachusetts. We will continue to advocate on behalf of domestic workers to make sure they know their rights and don’t fall victim to unfair and exploitative practices.”
The investigation was conducted by the AG’s Office, in conjunction with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Cambridge Police Department.
“This couple preyed upon the vulnerabilities of the victim using threats and isolation,” said United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz. “Failing to pay an employee earned wages is an affront to state and federal regulations. I am grateful to Attorney General Healey for collaborating with us to hold the defendants accountable and restore the wages the victim rightfully earned.”
“Across law enforcement we all need to work together to recognize the signs of forced labor, and put a stop to this sometimes invisible crime,” said Matt Etre, Special Agent in Charge for HSI Boston. “HSI will not tolerate any form of human exploitation. Forced labor, which often involves individuals who are held in isolation, degraded, and most alarming – stripped of their basic freedoms – has no place in a modern society.”
“I am very proud of the internal and external collaboration that occurred within this case,” stated Cambridge Police Commissioner Robert C. Haas. “As a result of the initial intelligence gained from our responding officers, the follow-up by our Special Investigations Unit and the ongoing, collaborative investigation with our federal and state partners, justice was served and a victim is no longer being exploited.”
An investigation began in March after there were allegations that a woman had been held against her will and not paid wages by her employers in Cambridge. The investigation revealed that the Alyafeis had travelled from Qatar to Cambridge with their family and brought a domestic worker with them to help care for their children.
Once in Cambridge, the Alyafeis failed to pay the worker for several weeks of work. After the worker requested her wages and asked to return home to the Philippines, the Alyafeis demanded her passport, immediately bought her plane ticket back to Qatar, and threatened to punish her upon her return.
The AG’s Office enforces the laws regulating the payment of wages, including prevailing wage, minimum wage, overtime laws and the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights.
On April 1, 2015, new protections for domestic workers went into effect in Massachusetts. The law enhances protections and rights for domestic workers involving working and rest time, charges for food and lodging, and circumstances around termination. The law also requires employers to have sufficient recordkeeping, including recording of hours worked by any domestic worker. It also provides guidelines for work evaluations and written employment agreements. The protections established by the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights apply to workers regardless of immigration status.
Workers who believe that their rights have been violated are encouraged to call the Office’s Fair Labor Hotline at (617) 727-3465. More information about the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights can be found at www.mass.gov/ago/dw. More information relating to the state's wage and hour laws is also available in multiple languages at the Attorney General's Workplace Rights website www.massworkrights.com. Organizations can request trainings from the AG’s Community Engagement Division on the domestic worker law or other issues by filling out this form.
This matter was handled by Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Cotter and Investigator Christina Lopez of AG Healey’s Fair Labor Division, with assistance from Nikki Antonucci, Chief of the AG’s Victim/Witness Services Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, HSI, and the Cambridge Police Department.