Immigrant Says She Was Duped Into Servitude

     VANCOUVER, B.C. (CN) – Owners of a furniture store lured an Indonesian woman to Canada for a housekeeping job, then held her in servitude for three years and paid her less than $200 a month, she claims in court.
     Masnurrita sued Orbit Trade Center dba House of Chippendale and three people, in British Columbia Supreme Court.
     Masnurrita, who apparently uses just one name, claims defendants Sandra Linny Lie and Hee Jeaw Chang offered her a live-in nanny and housekeeping job in 2006 at their home in the sprawling Vancouver suburb of Surrey.
     Lie and Chang told her the job involved light housekeeping and offered her a monthly salary of 1.5 million Indonesian rupiah, about 158 Canadian dollars at the time, according to the complaint.
     Masnurrita claims she knew nothing about Canadian immigration laws and couldn’t speak English. When she arrived, the defendants did not get her legal status to work in Canada and made her work 16-hour days, cooking, cleaning and doing the family’s laundry, she says in the complaint.
     “The plaintiff was isolated from outside contact while at the Surrey Home. Lie and Chang monitored and controlled the plaintiff’s movements and her communications with people outside the family,” the complaint states. “Lie and Chang exerted duress on the plaintiff so that she would not speak with strangers and explain to them her situation.”
     She claims she also had to work in defendants’ furniture store, House of Chippendale. She never had days off, including holidays, and Lie and Chang refused to send her back to Indonesia, which she requested beginning in 2007, she says in the complaint.
     Masnurrita says she learned about British Columbia’s minimum wage laws in 2009 and asked Lie for payment. Lie refused and told her she could be arrested if she sought help given, according to the complaint.
     Masnurrita says she fled the home on Christmas, 2009, then began learning English and tried to sort out her immigration status, but she was deported in 2012.
     “The plaintiff did not have the resources, financial or otherwise, to pursue a claim against the defendants between the time she left the Surrey Home and the time she was deported from Canada in 2012,” the complaint states. “It is only recently that the plaintiff’s circumstances have been such that she has been able to pursue a claim against the defendants. She has been further delayed in bringing this claim by being obliged to find, retain and instruct counsel from afar.”
     Also named as a defendant us Robert William Keys.
     Masnurrita seeks wages due and punitive damages for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, fraud, conspiracy, false imprisonment and conversion.She is represented by Eileen M. Pattel with Hunter Litigation Chambers in Vancouver.

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