The Matzav Shmoooze: If You Use Cleaning Help – You Must Read This


Dear Matzav readers,

Many in the community currently use the services of Spanish-speaking “goytas” who hail from South or Central America, most of whom are in the country illegally.

I would like to bring to the unsuspecting public’s attention a story that is currently taking place, so that others can protect themselves when employing the above-mentioned people:

I employed one of these women full-time, for over eight years, paying her $10, then $11, and subsequently $12 per hour.

Before this past Pesach, she asked for $13 per hour, which I agreed to give her on condition that she would be willing to come for the next two Sundays before Pesach. Although she would work on Sundays when she needed extra money, this time she refused, and left the house with me being furious that she had turned me down.

She never returned, and I figured that she must have found a better paying job.

I must make it very clear that I was an extremely kind, lenient employer.

I gave her $10 every day so that she could buy her own kosher food, plus she had a free lunch hour that she got paid for.
Although, she damaged many clothing items, I never expected her to reimburse me.
If she worked very late, I would feed her supper and send her home with an Uber, at a fare of approximately $30.
When she complained that the workload was too heavy for her, (I live in a duplex with my husband and young daughter), I brought in a second lady to assist her.
She would chat on the phone while working, even though it impeded her speed and distracted her, but I never told her to turn her iPhone off.
I kept quiet when she would stay late because she wanted to make up her missed hours, even though I knew she was taking advantage of me.
I gave her many items of used clothing when she hinted that she desired them, plus I bought her teenage daughter a new winter coat when she asked me to.
Lastly, I tipped her very generously before the Jewish holidays.

This week I got a court summons.

This very woman, whom I wined and dined, and with whom I tried to make a “Kiddush Hashem”, treating her with utmost respect, is suing me!!! For the hefty sum of $75,000 dollars!!! She claims that she should have been paid time and a half for each of her hours of overtime. (She never, ever, mentioned time and a half in all her years of working at my home).

After consulting with three different lawyers, it is apparent that the law is on her side. (Ironically, she revealed to me recently that she has a deportation notice…). Sadly, there is little I can do but make a settlement with her. I do not know how much this joke will cost me in the end, but I am heartbroken to have to give my hard-earned Yiddish gelt to such a disloyal, ungrateful person.

Moreover, I now know that I am not the first gullible “heimishe” woman who has taken in a “Mexican” housekeeper, and then been sent a summons. This trend is becoming increasingly popular. There are Spanish speaking lawyers who offer these workers their services, free of charge, on condition that they get a share of the settlement money. The complaints against employees can vary, but the motive is the same.

I know some might ask why I kept her all these years if I had complaints against her. The truth is that I trusted her. She may have lied occasionally, but she never touched my valuables though she had enough opportunities to snitch. Plus, she was a reliable worker overall, who arrived when she said she would. She knew the running of my home, and she took off many of my responsibilities.

I sincerely regret being so gracious to her, and I feel that she has punched me in the face.

Ladies! Please don’t make the same mistakes as me!
Never trust these chevra even if you think they are truly loyal to you.
Never employ the same person for 40 hours a week or longer, unless she is prepared to be paid on the books, by check, and then have to pay her taxes. I wish I had insisted on this, but it is almost impossible to get a housekeeper under these conditions.
Keep a record of her hours and have her sign it. Thus, in the future, she won’t be able to claim that she worked longer. You must have proof. If not, it’s her word against yours. Overtime is considered eight or more hours a day, and/or forty hours a week or longer.
Remember: even if you only employ her once a week, she can sue you if she worked eight hours or more in a single day.
Never let them think you have spare money; they will simply take advantage of you.

I hope this report iy”H helps prevent others from experiencing these scenarios.



  1. boy, have times changed! in my day (previous generation) you know who had “cleaning ladies”? only the affluent and wealthy people. today, however, it seems to be an absolute necessity! like telephone, water, and electric. the irony is that when i grew up we didn’t have all of the convenient appliances that today’s housewives have. i always joke with people that i never needed to hire a cleaning lady…..i married her!

    • Your poor wife!! I work a full time 9-5 job as does my husband. He always made sure I had help when needed so that I too could be available to my children, parents and myself and so that for the chagim and Shabbos I did not come into the day overwhelmed and overworked!!

  2. I hear you. We NEVER hire any goyetas to clean in our home. B”H, we have a large Mishpacha and the children are capable of pitching in and they do. Basic menschlichkeit. That’s how my Parents and grandparents did it. When we first got married we hired someone to clean the fridge and the oven/stove before Yom Tov a couple of times but we were unimpressed. B”H we did not grow up spoiled. B”H we did not grow up with the attitude that Si kumt tzu mir. Yes, we make our own beds. We know how to hang up our clothes and put our shoes away. We know how to change the garbage back when It’s full and bring it out to the garbage by ourselves. We don’t need Maria to do it for us. It’s amazing how spoiled our generation is where the kids (and many parents) don’t know the aleph bais of self sufficiency. I hear from chaveirim that when their goyeta doesn’t show up, they go into a panic! You mean I’m going to have to sweep the dining room all by myself?! I’ll have to wash my laundry all by myself?! Oyh, such tzaros! Nebach. My kids are too busy on the DS to help. Spoiled generation.

    • Binny,
      I couldn’t say it better myself….I laugh at all who have cleaning ladies unless they are physically handicapped etc…i see the clear difference between my kids and the neighbors….Not a week goes by where someone doesn’t comment to me how responsible and hard working my children are. Rabosai, if you care about the chinuch of your children, toss the shiksahs out of your house, grow up, and clean your own toilet …..

  3. How is she proving she worked more than 40 hours a week? Punch clock and time cards? Sign in sheet? Receipts for what yo paid her? The burden of proof is on her to prove she worked more than 40 hours. Make sure she proves it.

  4. Binny: you are totally off the point, and awfully self-righteous.
    Don’t judge others so fast. Some people work full time, and do not have kids to help them. If they can afford help, that’s their business. This letter was made public for those who can afford, or require housekeeping help for whatever reason.

  5. To those who think I’m spoiled by having a cleaning lady:
    It’s so nice that you are able to clean your house yourself but if that’s the case, either you or your spouse does not work full time. Either that, or you are not spending time with your children. my husband and I both work full time. If my cleaning lady cancels, yes I do go into a dizzy panic because I am not sitting at home wishing for something to do. I cannot just “sweep the dining room all by myself” or “wash my laundry all by myself” because I’m not home to do it!! Sure, I can do it at 6 pm when I walk in and 8 kinderlach are vying for my attention. I can say, “sorry, I can’t do homework with you or make dinner, or run any errands with you or go for a walk with you because I’ve got to clean the house”. As a parent, I’ve made a conscious decision to spend time with my children by doing their homework with them and helping them with what ever they may need at the expense of hiring a cleaning lady. In my books, its an expense well worth it. I hardly think anyone would say I’m spoiled. My children will remember the time we spent together, not who cleaned the house!

    • That’s the point! If you have 8 children (oldest must be teenage etc…), then they should be given jobs and expected to do most of the work….My daughters were running the house by age 9 !!! Try it. They might actually feel good about running the house for their parents who work so hard…..and then by the time you come home, you can do homework with them and play checkers….(true, you are not use to thinking this way but give it a try….you might be pleasantly surprised…..)

      • I’ve had tenants NEWLYWEDS who bring in cleaning ladies because they don’t know the first thing about cleaning a house since they were never expected to do it at home. I’ve had neighbors children who called their mother after marriage because they didn’t know how to clean a pot or sweep a floor etc….It’s an absolute disgrace. Even if you must employ help for whatever LEGITIMATE reason, once in awhile roll up your sleeves, start scrubbing, and get your hands dirty so your kids will understand that really it is YOUR job to run the house but it’s just that you can’t do it for whatever legitimate reason…. It will be a bigger lesson for them than all the “homework” their teachers make them do. it will be a lesson in life and the real world……

        • I have had tenants who were Kollel families that had cleaning ladies 2-3 times every week.
          (At least the cleaning lady was earning money to support her family, unlike the Kollel Yungel).

    • Aha. But to blog on the internet, that you do have time for. What a typical spoiled brat hypocrite. Momamleh, how long does it take you to sweep the floor? 5 minutes max? You’re full of it. You are spoiled.

  6. Thank you to the letter-writer for the warning and the practical advice on how to avoid getting ambushed by a helper the way you were.

    During the aseres yemei teshuva especially, perhaps we can fargin those who employ a full-time cleaning lady/housekeeper.

    While we don’t have one (and can’t afford one), with two working parents, homework time with the kids, cooking, shopping and the many, many other time and energy consuming responsibilities that modern parents have, let’s lot look judgmentally and unfavorably at other families – I highly doubt those with housekeepers are lying on their couches eating chocolate truffles all day. Those who have special-needs children, kids with substance-abuse issues R”l, elderly parents who need care, and innumerable other potential issues are even more stressed and stretched.

    We specifically klap “Al Chait” for many, many bain adam lechavairo transgressions, including how we judge others. May we all look as favorably upon others as we ask HKB”H to look upon us this past Rosh HaShanna and upcoming Yom Kippur.

  7. Many thanks to the writer for bringing this very serious problem to the attention of the public, in a comprehensive way.

    HKB”H should mete out justice to this evil ingrate employee soon. Maybe she will go back to her third-world country of origin with some US dollars and get victimized by some of her own people there, where she could be seen as the rich one. That would be poetic justice for how she was כפוי טובה and fleeced the writer after having been on the receiving end of so much kindness.

    To the writer – הקב”ה ימלא חסרונך.

  8. And there are families who don’t have an army of children and yet have open houses an are always hosting people- for sleep and for meals…days or even weeks at a time. Both parents may need to work. Even 3 or 4 tuition’s is huge. how can it happen?? Also some have children with special needs or children ho do not sleep well at night – should they expend their energy on toilets or save it for children?

  9. #1 Don’t hire illegals.
    #2 Don’t hire illegals.
    #3 Don’t hire illegals.

    If you hire illegals YOU are breaking the law and you deserve what you get.
    Follow the Law of the Land and pay your workers fairly and by check. If you pay them cash they don’t pay the taxes on their income. Both they and you are guilty of tax evasion. Use Common Sense.

  10. is this article a joke? she has no proof of labor. her word against yours. a lawyer would probably advise you not to admit to anything publicly.

  11. I imagine that you are a hard working woman who works outside your home and therefore need a cleaning woman. But, I personally never had cleaning help even though I had a large family and worked (part time) because I never wanted an “aino Yehudi” in my home. I got my kids to help which is good training and did my best to keep my house running smoothly.

  12. I imagine that you are a hard working woman who works outside your home and therefore need a cleaning woman. But, I personally never had cleaning help even though I had a large family and worked (part time) because I never wanted an “aino Yehudi” in my home. I got my kids to help which is good training and did my best to keep my house running smoothly.

  13. First of all ask your Rav next time you throw your money around. And second of all does she have any prove that she worked by you at all? Does she have prove of the hours that she worked?
    Why would you admit in court that you hired and illegal worker?
    It’s her word against yours, talk to a normal lawyer she got nothing on you.

  14. Every states overtime laws are different.
    In New Jersey there is no overtime law requiring “time in a half” for >8 hours a day. Only for >40 hours per week.

  15. This very woman, whom I wined and dined, and with whom I tried to make a “Kiddush Hashem”, treating her with utmost respect, is suing me!!! For the hefty sum of $75,000 dollars!!! She claims that she should have been paid time and a half for each of her hours of overtime.

    So she was able to prove that she did $150,000 worth of overtime work that she can ask for the other $75,000? At $12 an hour that comes out to be 12,500 overtime hours. That would be 48 hours overtime a week over a five year period!

    Anything before five years would probably be beyond the statue of limitations. Does she have tax returns showing that amount of income? Does is make sense that she worked over eighty hours a week over a five year period when you only have a duplex? etc.?

  16. Thank you to all those that took the time and trouble to comment.
    To obvious. First of all, I think its important to act like a mentch to a non-Jew, and tip when necessary, workers, taxi- drivers and waiters included. That does not necessarily mean I have to consult with a Rav about “throwing money around”. I come from a culture where people try to be decent to one another.

    Secondly, I have spoken to quite a few lawyers. They all say that I should make a settlement without going to court. Anyway, I would never stand up and say a blatant lie that I do not know her.

    The only reason i publicized this incident is so that unsuspecting “rich, spoiled” employers do not fall in to this trap.

    G’mar V’chasima Tovah to all.

  17. To accountant. i appreciate your constructive advice. The woman is trying her luck when demanding this exorbitant chunk, since she knows that the amount will be trimmed. Plus, i understand that her pro bono lawyer will receive half of the bounty…

  18. I live out of town and My wife and I takkah also work full time (plus plus) and we have cleaning help, for about 10 hours a week.
    Maybe I should move to Lakewood – seems like the gashmiyus is better there. 40 hours a week? Ayzeh wai wai!

  19. I feels so bad for you, and I daven that the Ribono Shel Olam should help, and you are not obligated to pay, and may your aggravation be a kappara. Hatzlocha!

  20. And those that work in kashrus as mashgichim, they do get paid overtime and time in a half?! What about those poor souls that work in Sefarim/Judaica stores? Do they get overtime? Heimishe Supermarkets?

  21. I wouldn’t settle. Fight it to the end and speak to another lawyer bec. as an illegal, the laws of employers/employees do not apply. (ask Bret Kavanaugh! he ruled as such in the Rubashkin case…)

  22. wishing you much hatzlacha!!
    p.s. we always see these letters but never hear the ending…please let us know what ends up happening.
    kol tuv!

  23. Everyone should grow up knowing how to clean her own house. If someone does needs cleaning help, I don’t think it takes 40 hours a week to have a clean house, unless you are OCD about cleaning. I am sure that ten hours or less of cleaning should be more than enough to keep a house clean. If you don’t have children your house doesn’t get so dirty so it should be even easier to clean it. When I had my children home they used to help. Now that they’re grown and out of the house there’s a big difference in how much cleaning the house needs.

  24. Be happy that the goyta didn’t report you to the IRS. You could be responsible for a large chunk of money on unpaid payroll taxes for household help.


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