A couple is accused of trafficking a live-in nanny, paying her $40 a month and forcing her to live in a storage room, California prosecutors said.
The couple brought the woman, identified as Nicel R., from the Philippines in June 2019, according to a Dec. 6 news release from San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins.
Despite promising her a three-month work commitment, the couple kept Nicel R., who does not speak English, for more than two years, holding on to her passport, not allowing her to have friends or a cellphone and restricting her from leaving the home, prosecutors said.
“By making her dependent on the suspects for life’s basic necessities, such as food, shelter and money, Nicel R. lacked the resources to leave her employers,” prosecutors said.
The woman was expected to always be available, “even in the middle of the night,” to care for the couple’s disabled son, according to prosecutors.
For the first several months of employment, the nanny, who slept in a crowded and unheated storage room with boxes and clothes, was paid $140 a month but later that was reduced to $40 monthly, according to the release.
Prosecutors said the couple also failed to provide Nicel R. employee benefits required by law, such as “payment for the substantial overtime hours she worked, meal and rest breaks, paid sick leave, workers’ compensation insurance, and proof of wages.”
The woman was rescued by San Francisco police on Nov. 29, 2021 after a neighbor called to report the woman’s situation, prosecutors said.
“Domestic workers play an important role in our economy and like all workers should be paid fairly and protected from exploitation,” Jenkins said in the release.
The husband and wife each face multiple charges, including “one count of felony conspiracy to commit human labor trafficking, one count of felony human labor trafficking, three counts of felony unemployment insurance code violations, and three counts of misdemeanor labor code violations,” prosecutors said.
The husband surrendered to police on Nov. 30, while the wife surrendered on Dec. 4, according to prosecutors. Each has posted $100,000 bonds.
“If convicted of all charges, they each face over 19 years in state prison,” the release said.