SAN MATEO, California: A Filipina has sued her employer couple in Northern California for maltreating her, and forced labor.
According to the woman’s account to the court, the couple kept her in a windowless shed for nine years, and put her to 17-hour days of forced labor, treating her as a “substandard human”, reported Court House News.
Emma Basubas reportedly sued Mark and Valerie De Leon on November 20 in San Mateo County Court. She accused them of human trafficking, false imprisonment and 10 other causes of action.
She reportedly claimed they subjected her to involuntary servitude from the moment she entered the United States in April 2005 – that they “knowingly and willfully lured (her) into this country … under false promises of fair pay” for “a simple housekeeping job.”
“Defendants forced plaintiff to work seven days a week for nine years,” she reportedly said in the complaint. Her typical workday began at 6 a.m. and ended at 11 p.m. They stuck her into a storage shed, and “became angry at the cost of electricity for the portable heating device, so they confiscated it and plaintiff had no heating source for many years except for blankets,” she reportedly said in the complaint.
“During cold nights, plaintiff nearly froze and was unable to sleep despite putting on as many layers of clothing and blankets as possible. The shed also lacked a bathroom.”
She says she was paid $300 to $600 a week, without a single vacation, and subjected to constant verbal abuse and humiliation. They forbade her from leaving their property at any time, called her “stupid, small and feeble-minded like a child,” and threatened her with deportation, the report said.
They kept her isolated and would not even let her give her address to her friends or family for fear of reported to authorities; they let her immigration visa expire and held her passport hostage, threatening her with deportation and using constant threats to keep her working under the miserable conditions, according to the complaint, Court House News reported.
The victim has now sought statutory and punitive damages for human trafficking, wage and labor violations, fraudulent inducement, negligent misrepresentation, breach of contract, breach of faith, invasion of privacy, negligence, conversion, and false imprisonment, the report said.