- Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
Media Contact for Couple to Pay More Than $35,000 for Failing to Pay Their Live-in Domestic Worker
Boston — A married couple has agreed to pay more than $35,000 to resolve allegations they violated the state’s wage and hour and domestic worker laws in a case involving their live-in domestic worker who cared for their children, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.
Shiou Voon Kayse Foo and Kay Jinn Wong have paid more than $35,000 in restitution and penalties to resolve allegations that they failed to pay minimum wage, overtime, and vacation pay, and failed to comply with the state’s Domestic Workers Law in connection with their former live-in employee.
“These individuals exploited their live-in employee by forcing her to work without proper pay,” said AG Healey. “Massachusetts has strong laws to protect all workers and ensure they are treated fairly. This should send a message that this conduct is not acceptable and we will go after those who do not pay their workers properly.”
The AG’s Office began an investigation into Foo and Wong based on a referral from Boston University Law School’s Human Trafficking Clinic in March 2017. The couple, originally from Malaysia, were living in Cambridge and brought their domestic worker with them, whom they had previously employed, to help care for their children and to provide other domestic services.
The AG’s investigation revealed that once in Cambridge, Foo and Wong made only sporadic payments and failed to pay their employee for weeks at a time. Foo and Wong have denied any wrongdoing.
Under Massachusetts law, “forced services” are services performed or provided by someone that are obtained or maintained by physical restraint or abuse of the law or by causing financial harm to any person.
The AG’s Office enforces the laws regulating the payment of wages, minimum wage, and overtime – as well as the Domestic Workers Law, which regulates working and rest time, charges for food and lodging, and circumstances of termination. The law also requires employers to make and keep records of the hours worked by any domestic worker and provides guidelines for work evaluations and written employment agreements. The protections established by the Domestic Workers Law apply regardless of immigration status.
In May 2016, a couple from Qatar paid $3,000 to resolve allegations by the AG’s Office 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.
Workers who believe that their rights have been violated are encouraged to call the AG’s Fair Labor Hotline at (617) 727-3465. More information about Labor Trafficking can be found at here and more on the Domestic Workers Law 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.mass.gov/ago/fairlabor.
This matter was handled by Assistant Attorney General Karla Zarbo and Investigator Jennifer Pak with AG Healey’s Fair Labor Division, with assistance from the AG’s Human Trafficking Division, the State Police Detective Unit, and the Cambridge Police.