Montréal, May 21, 2018 – A Filipina live-in caregiver has finally won the first round of her case against her former employer, who has been asked by the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission to pay $41,600 in damages for violation of her civil rights.

It is among the highest amount of damages claimed against an employer in a case involving live-in caregivers in Quebec, most of whom are from the Philippines. In a decision transmitted to the parties in January 2018, the Commission is demanding that Nathalie Azoulay pay Gelyn Dasoc-Hilot $11,600 for lost wages and airfare which the latter had to pay herself to come to Canada; $25,000 in moral damages and $5,000 in punitive damages. In addition, the Commission asks Azoulay to return to Dasoc-Hilot her belongings, which were left behind when Dasoc-Hilot left.

Dasoc-Hilot was recruited to Canada through a placement agency called Super Nanny based in the West Island, known for controversial treatment of Filipina live-in caregivers. In 2005, she paid the Agency $4,400 CAD to obtain the papers to come to Canada. In July 2012, she arrived in Canada but Super Nanny and her employer, Azoulay, asked Dasoc-Hilot to pay her own airfare, contrary to federal rules.

Between July and September 2012, Dasoc-Hilot worked for and stayed with Azoulay, looking after the latter’s four children and home. She was paid minimum wage, and worked on average 65 hours a week, despite the work contract stipulation of 40 hours a week. Still, Dasoc-Hilot was not paid for the first two weeks or for her overtime hours.

When Dasoc-Hilot asked for her due salaries, Azoulay regularly threatened to report her to immigration and have her deported. In September 2012, tired of being exploited and threatened, Dasoc-Hilot left her job empty-handed, leaving behind her personal belongings.

CRARR filed the civil rights complaint for her in April 2013. In October 2013, due to her complaint to and legal proceedings by the Employment Standards Commission, she received $1,401 from Azoulay.

In April 2013, when Azoulay saw Dasoc-Hilot near Cavendish Mall, she took a photo of the latter against her wish and threatened to report her to immigration authorities.

“I am pleased with the decision, although not much has happened in the last five months. It has taken five years for me to obtain justice, but I will go as far as possible, because it is not just about me, but it is about so many other foreign live-in caregivers before and after me who were exploited, discriminated and abused,” said Dasoc-Hilot, who still works as a caregiver.

“We still have cases like Gelyn’s, so this decision is very important to all women who work as foreign as well as domestic caregivers,” former PINAY President Evelyn Calugay said. “We know too well how the Human Rights Commission has, for years, mishandled complaints from Filipina live-in caregivers, so let’s hope that this time, it gets it right.”

However, both Dasoc-Hilot and PINAY are perplexed by the fact that the Commission still has not filed the case before the Human Rights Tribunal because it was still negotiating with Azoulay, who apparently did not want to pay the damages.

According to CRARR Executive Director Fo Niemi, Dasoc-Hilot’s case shows the failure of federal and provincial immigration authorities to enforce, in a tough and speedy manner, the rules to protect foreign female workers and sanction employers who breach their contractual conditions.

“It is not the first time we hear of foreign live-in caregivers having to pay their airfare to come here, or employers who abuse workers,” Niemi noted. “All three levels of government need to enact tough measures against this exploitation.”

CRARR is calling on:
❏ The federal government to prosecute and fine employers who violate federal conditions
regarding foreign workers and caregivers;
❏ The Quebec government to fund groups like PINAY to combat discrimination and
exploitation of caregivers, and to reduce excessive delays in the Human Rights
Commission’s handling of complaints involving foreign and domestic caregivers;
❏ The City of Montreal to give to its Office of New Immigrants Integration the mandate to plan and develop programs for foreign and immigrant worker education, safety and
protection; collect and analyze data on the city’s foreign and immigrant labor force; and coordinate with federal, provincial and other community agencies to identify gaps and prioritize areas for the improvement of conditions within particular job sectors with a high representation of foreign and immigrant workers.

“It is almost impossible to find up-to-date data on the number of foreign or migrant workers in Montreal, who they are, what needs they have and what barriers they face,” said Balarama Holness, who is working with CRARR to have the City set up a public consultation on systemic racism and discrimination.
“We believe that the City, through its Bureau d’intégration des nouveaux arrivants, needs to have a more pro-active role on foreign and immigrant workers’ integration and protection,” he added.

“This is definitely one of the issues we want to raise at the public consultation on systemic racism and discrimination,” Balarama concluded.

Information: Fo Niemi
Executive Director, CRARR: 514-939-3342
Evelyn Calugay
Former President, PINAY: 514-238-0089