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Uber Executives and Airbnb Executives Come Under Fire for Wage Theft and Sexual Harassment Claims

California case raises awareness of unfair and illegal employment practices

A live-in domestic worker assisting two tech executives in San Francisco filed an official lawsuit against her former employers in October, arguing both wage theft and sexual harassment.

The lawsuit argues that Cameron Poetzscher, head of corporate development for Uber, and Varsha Rao, the head of global operations for Airbnb, subjected employee Julieta Yang to a sexually hostile home and work environment in addition to failing to pay her for overtime and minimum wage.

The mother of three from the Philippines worked for the married couple for over 7 years. She began working for the couple in March 2008 when the partners lived in Singapore. According to Yang, Poetzscher, who previously worked for Goldman Sachs before joining Uber in 2014, would walk into the kitchen naked to watch her cook. The employee argued that when Rao travelled for work on a regular basis, Poetzscher sexually harassed Yang numerous times by making unwanted sexual advances, touching her inappropriately, making comments of a sexual nature, or appearing in the nude.

In one such incident, Poetzscher allegedly bumped into his employee and rubbed his groin against her. When Yang raised concerns about this behavior, she was advised by her employer “not to share it with Rao.”

When the couple relocated from Singapore to San Francisco in 2013, Yang was offered triple her wages to move along with them. Yang continued to live and work with the couple in their home in San Francisco until April of 2015 when she quit. She was paid a fixed weekly rate of $450 during her stay in San Francisco regardless of the hours that she worked in a given week.

According to her, it was not uncommon to work nine hours a day, six days a week, although she was never given rest breaks or mandated meal breaks. In addition to working under these conditions, Yang says she was required to give her consent for signatures on employment contracts stating that she worked 30 hours a week for $12.50 an hour even though she claims to have been working much longer hours.

The sexual harassment also continued once the couple relocated from Singapore to San Francisco, according to Yang. Unfortunately, this case is just the latest in a string of concerns about domestic workers who are subject to wage theft, labor violations or unwanted sexual proposition behind closed doors.

Yang hopes that her lawsuit would bring more awareness to this issue and help to protect others from going through similar situations in the future.

If you or someone you know has been subject to wage theft and other illegal labor practices, consult with an attorney to determine whether you have grounds for a lawsuit. The New York employment lawyers at Hepworth, Gershbaum & Roth PLLC have more than 70 years of combined experience helping workers in New York and throughout the U.S. receive the justice and compensation they deserve from employers. We are here to help — contact us at 212-545-1199 or online for a free, confidential consultation.





Contact an employment law attorney in New York today for a free initial consultation and determine whether you have a case. For a free initial consultation, you can contact us online or by phone.

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