Federal agents descended on a sprawling 34-bedroom New York mansion in May 2011. They found an Indian immigrant woman there who told them that for 5½ years she had been caring for the children of the manor for 17 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year -- at 85 cents an hour. At night she slept on the floor of a walk-in closet.
Such an extreme case might be rare, but the exploitation of domestic workers is not. Experts have long pointed out that domestic employees are particularly vulnerable to abuse, as they're primarily women of color, laboring in isolation with few legal protections. But we now have a glimpse of the extent, thanks to the first large-scale national survey of domestic workers in U.S., released this week by an advocacy group, the National Domestic Workers Alliance.