December 6, 2022
Domestic Worker Mediation Program Fulfills Mayor’s “Blueprint for Economic Recovery” Proposal
Furthers Administration’s Commitment to Raising Labor Standards in Industry Predominantly Made Up of Immigrants and Women of Color
NEW YORK, NY — New York City Mayor Eric Adams, New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) Commissioner Vilda Vera Mayuga, and the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH) Commissioner Asim Rehman today announced the launch of a new Domestic Worker Mediation Program, created to help the city’s approximately 18,000 domestic workers and their employers resolve workplace issues in a respectful, confidential, and free way without going to court. A previous report conducted by DCWP has found that more than half of the city’s domestic workers — the majority of whom are immigrants and women of color — have experienced wage theft, safe and sick leave violations, harassment, discrimination, and fear of retaliation from their employers if they report illegal behavior.
Mediation — which benefits both workers and employers — is voluntary and available to resolve workplace issues related to unpaid wages and overtime, paid safe and sick leave violations, and retaliation. The program builds on Mayor Adams’ commitment to ensure that New York City’s domestic workers — those who work directly for a private household, like housecleaners, nannies, or other care providers — are offered the support and resources they need to thrive.
“Domestic workers do vital work each and every day to care for our loved ones, often for low wages and minimal workplace protections, and, as a blue-collar mayor, I am committed to uplifting all workers across our city, especially the immigrants and women of color who power so many of our critical service industries.,” said Mayor Adams. “Through this new mediation program, we will empower these workers to resolve disputes with their employers and ensure they are afforded the same protections that workers in other industries enjoy. Thank you to the teams at DCWP and OATH for helping to launch this new program and support our city’s workers.”
“Domestic workers — who are predominantly immigrants and women of color — perform essential work to provide care and support for our loved ones, and they deserve to be treated fairly,” said Deputy Mayor for Economic and Workforce Development Maria Torres-Springer. “Through our new domestic worker mediation program, we will ensure care workers and their employers are able to resolve disputes without having to resort to costly litigation, ensuring access to basic workplace protections and supporting our city’s more equitable recovery.”
“Many New Yorkers rely on domestic workers to help care for our families and our homes, but too often they are denied the most basic workplace protections, with no HR to turn to and employers who may not know all of the obligations they owe their employees,” said DCWP Commissioner Vilda Vera Mayuga. “This new program marks a victory for domestic workers and will go far in strengthening their rights, as well as educating their employers on how best to follow the law. We thank the mayor and Commissioner Rehman for collaborating with us to find creative ways to protect some of our city’s most vulnerable and dedicated workers.”
“When city agencies and employees need a place to mediate their disputes, OATH’s Center for Creative Conflict Resolution is there to help,” said OATH Commissioner and Chief Administrative Law Judge Asim Rehman. “I’m so glad that the Center’s work will now include the Domestic Worker Mediation Program. Mediation is a win-win for employers and employees because it provides a faster resolution without the expense and adversarial nature of a formal court action.”
“The intimate nature of the services provided by domestic workers — care of family members and dependents within an employer’s home — requires healthy, respectful, and trusting relationships,” said Raymond Kramer, administrative law judge and executive director, Center for Creative Conflict Resolution, OATH. “When conflicts arise that threaten those relationships, employers and employees now have an opportunity to work them out directly with the help or our highly skilled mediators in a private, neutral, and supportive environment. We’re thrilled to be part of this innovative program.”
“Our experience at Hand in Hand: The Domestic Employers Network is that people who employ domestic workers want to do the right thing, but they just don’t have the resources or support they need,” said Tatiana Bejar, New York City lead organizer, Hand in Hand: The Domestic Employers Network. “This mediation program will assist employers in resolving conflict and creating a fair, equitable, and safe work environment for the nannies, house cleaners, and home care workers who work in their homes. We’re proud to be a part of this collaborative and innovative effort that recognizes the essential labor of domestic workers.”
“Domestic workers, who are often immigrant women of color, may be apprehensive about filing complaints and engaging in adversarial approaches with their employers,” said Leydis Munoz, enforcement program manager, National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) – New York Chapter. “We are excited that the mediation program offers an alternative way for domestic workers to engage in the process of asserting rights and resolving issues in the workplace.”
Mediation under the Domestic Worker Mediation Program is free, confidential, offered regardless of immigration status, and provides a fair resolution faster than pursuing legal action in court. If the worker and employer agree to mediation, a neutral mediator from OATH’s Center for Creative Conflict Resolution will meet with the two parties to understand the issues and reach an agreement that is fair for everyone. A DCWP staff member and worker or employer representatives may also participate in mediation. For more information or to make an appointment, New Yorkers can visit nyc.gov/workers for a multilingual overview, email OLPS@dcwp.nyc.gov, or call 311.