Abused domestic worker held in slave-like conditions to file lawsuit in federal court

When D.C. resident Janet Gonzalez took the Monday through Friday, live-in maid position in rural Dickerson, she was promised $350 a week and transportation to and from the Shady Grove Metro station at the beginning and end of the week.

But employers Belinda and James Caron held Gonzalez in slave-like conditions for nearly five months. The Carons refused to pay her, restricted her phone access and declined to drive her to the nearest Metro station, miles from their isolated country home.

After nearly five months, Gonzalez secretly called the National Human Trafficking Hotline after the number appeared on a television show. The hotline connected her to CASA de Maryland’s Domestic Worker Committee, who arrived at the Carons’ home with a delegation of 15 domestic workers and community advocates, rescuing Gonzalez from the abusive environment.

“This shouldn’t happen to anyone. I was lied to, abused and cheated,” said Gonzalez, a legal immigrant from Venezuela. “I want people to know that things like this happen. I demand justice for all domestic workers.”

Gonzalez will speak at a press conference at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 10, on the steps of the Montgomery County Council Building in Rockville (100 Maryland Ave.). Joining her will be County Councilmember George Leventhal, co-sponsor of Montgomery County’s Domestic Worker Law; members of CASA de Maryland’s Domestic Worker Committee; attorneys from Maryland Legal Aid (who represents Gonzalez); and officials from the Montgomery County Office of Consumer Protections.

The press Conference, organized by CASA de Maryland, will highlight the plight of domestic workers suffering from ongoing abuse in affluent Montgomery County. The same day, Gonzalez’ Legal Aid attorneys will file a lawsuit in federal court seeking back pay and punitive damages.

For more information, contact Tania Del Angel, (240) 353-2288 (tdelangel@casamd.org) or Joe Surkiewicz (410) 951-7683 (jsurkiewicz@mdlab.org).

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