Virginia's Domestic Workers Deserve Labor Protections

Virginia General Assembly

Did you know Virginia state law allows nannies, house cleaners and home health aides to be fired for being pregnant?  

Did you know that domestic workers have no health and safety protections, and in the midst of the COVID pandemic, can be forced to work in the same space with people who refuse to wear masks?

For too long, house cleaners, nannies and home attendants have worked without basic rights and protections in Virginia, because they have been excluded from our states civil rights and labor laws. This is inexcusable and inhumane and it must end.

New York, California, Illinois, Nevada, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Hawaii, New Mexico, and Oregon and the cities of Seattle and Philadelphia have passed protections for domestic workers that include them in labor protections like working in an environment free from harassment and discrimination and in a safe working environment where if they are injured on the job, they can be paid workers compensation. It’s time for Virginia to do the same.

Hand in Hand joins partners across the Commonwealth including Care In Action to stand up for domestic worker rights.

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To: Virginia General Assembly
From: [Your Name]

As employers and allies of domestic workers, we recognize the critical importance of the work performed by the house cleaners, nannies and attendants who work in our homes. Their work makes it possible for us to work and care for our loved ones. We write in support of the 60,000 domestic workers in Virginia, and the need for legislation to guarantee workplace safety and freedom from abuses such as discrimination, harassment, and retaliation for reporting these abuses.

We are deeply concerned that domestic workers are currently provided few workplace protections in Virginia or at federal level. Historically, domestic workers were excluded from labor law protections in the U.S. since the New Deal, an exclusion that perpetuated post-slavery white supremacy when southern Congress members refused to sign the law if farm workers and domestic workers, the majority of whom were Black, were included. This vestige of slavery needs to be eliminated from our laws and society immediately.

We urge you to make a change in the unjust treatment of domestic workers by supporting legislation that will expand labor protections and raise workplace standards for nannies, house cleaners, and care givers. Following the example of eight states and two municipalities (Seattle and Philadelphia) that have passed bills that support domestic workers, workers from Virginia are leading the way for bills that will include critical protections for domestic workers.

Domestic workers enable us to go to our own workplaces with the peace of mind that our families and homes are safe and well cared for. As such, we want our employees to be treated with the dignity they deserve.

As employers and allies of domestic workers, we stand with these workers in support of these bills and call on you to pass this critical legislation.