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Saturday, April 13, 2024 | Back issues
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Filipina Babysitter Says Family Enslaved Her

BROOKLYN (CN) - A Filipina woman who came to the United States to work as a babysitter job says her employers enslaved her, forcing her to work 84 hours a week without pay for nearly 10 years. Leticia Moratal claims that Elsa and Augusto Nolasco and their daughters confiscated her passport, isolated her, renamed her "Baba, our slave," and subjected her to years of "backbreaking labor and psychological abuse," until she was rescued by a good Samaritan.

Moratal sued the Nolascos and their daughters, Rosareida Nolasco and Laarni Savino, for peonage, forced labor, slavery, human trafficking and other charges, in Federal Court.

Moratal says she learned of the nanny position in December 2000 through Elsa Nolasco's son, "Sol," who was her co-worker in the Philippines. Elsa Nolasco promised Moratal she would be paid $800 per month to watch her granddaughter in New York, and that she would get one day off per week, Moratal says.

Moratal says that when she arrived in New York in March 2001, Elsa told her that the position was actually at her daughter Laarni's home in Florida.

Despite her "soft protest," Moratal went to work in Florida, where she was to tend to the infant, and perform "general household duties, such as house cleaning, cooking, laundry, ironing clothes and yard work."

She says she was also forced to work 25 hours a week sewing and packaging children's dance clothing for Laarni's company "DanceNKids."

Moratal says the family would not let her go outside of the home alone or talk to visitors, "especially if they were Filipino or Filipino-American."

She says the family threatened that "she could be picked up by the police or by immigration authorities for being unlawfully present," and forced her into "silence and obedience by keeping her in constant state of fear of deportation."

Moratal says she was cut off from contact with her relatives in the Philippines and was allowed to write only an occasional letter. If relatives called for her, the family told them she was unavailable, she says, and Nolasco family would not let her use their telephone.

Moratal says she was forced her to sleep in the family's stock room or on the baby's bedroom floor. She adds that the Nolasco family called her "Baba," and that Laarni's daughter introduced her to her school friends as "Baba, our slave."

In November 2009, Laarni sent Moratal to New York to care for Elsa and Augusto Nolasco. There she had to sleep on a sofa near the dining room. "In addition to the loss of her privacy, she could not even go to sleep when other people in the house were still awake and about the living room," according to the complaint.

Moratal says that that Elsa and Augusto verbally abused her, calling her a "slave" and "good for nothing," and that Elsa cursed at her when she "complained that she was not receiving her compensation at all."

Moratal says the family did not provide her with personal hygiene supplies or medicine on a regular basis, and that she "had to make use of utensil detergent as hair shampoo for at least two months because she was not given any provisions at all."

Moratal says that throughout her employment with the Nolasco family she worked 84 hours per week, and was on call throughout the night to tend to the child or the elderly Nolasco grandparents, that she never had a day off and never was paid for her services. She was "forced to be a full-time servant/nanny/cook at the beck and call of two households."

Moratal says she spent almost 10 years enslaved by the Nolasco family until a "good Samaritan woman" rescued her and helped her escape in December this year.

Moratal demands damages from the family and "DanceNKids" for violations of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, Involuntary servitude, peonage/slavery, unlawful conduct, fraudulent inducement, negligent misrepresentation, emotional distress, wage violations, unjust enrichment and conspiracy.

She is represented by Felix Vinluan.

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