WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — A new bill adding protections for domestic workers passed its first vote on Tuesday.
The Domestic Worker Employment Rights Act will require a written agreement including hours, pay, duties and more for domestic workers and their employers. It also ensures domestic workers are protected under the DC Human Rights Act and Occupational Safety and Health Act.
Right now no such protections exist for people working in private homes as nannies, au pairs, housekeepers and more.
The vote passed its first of two votes unanimously.
“How would this help? I would definitely not experience sexual harassment in the way that I have because I would have my rights,” said Reina Moreno, who cleans private homes during the week and cares for the elderly during the weekend.
“We’re discriminated for so many different things. For our race, for our migration status, for our gender. For so much,” she said.
Moreno said upon arriving in the U.S., she was hired for a job cleaning. When she got there on the first day, she was sexually harassed.
“I didn’t know what to do and I didn’t know my rights. I didn’t feel like I could call the police, I didn’t feel safe to do that,” she explained.
She’s hopeful this bill will prevent others from experiencing the same thing.
“We are thousands and thousands of domestic workers who are in these difficult circumstances,” she said.
The legislation will impact 10,000 nannies, housekeepers and home health aides, according to DC Councilmember Elissa Silverman. Many of which she says are women and minorities.
“These women have been asking for something very basic – dignity, respect, fairness, and a safe workplace,” said Silverman. “It’s an entirely reasonable thing to ask for, and I’m pleased to say that from the start, all of us on the dais have been on board with those aims, as we worked through the legislation.”
A second vote on the bill is scheduled for December 20.