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No Protection Against Sexual Harassment for Nannies and Housekeepers

The bosses of millions of domestic workers and farmworkers fall into a category of employers that fit the “small firm exemption” under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Title VII is the federal law that prohibits employers for discriminating against workers based on religion, disability, gender, or race.

Although sexual harassment at work is a form of gender discrimination, but employers with fewer than fifteen workers are exempt from the act.  This provision was added to the law to ease the burden of government regulation on small business. In reality, however, the provision allows small employers to sexually harass and discriminate against their workers under federal law.

About ten percent of the workforce, or more than 12 million US workers, worked for firms with fewer than ten employees in 2017.  Millions of these people are housekeepers, home health care aids, nannies, and other occupations made up mostly of women of color.  When a housekeeper or nanny is hired directly by a family, she has no one to complain to if she is harassed, and she likely does not have a witness to the behavior.