INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING PROJECT: Housekeeper sues Wall Street socialite for unpaid wages of over $75K (Part 1)

By Cristina DC Pastor

Elyse Slaine appears to be the typical Wall Street socialite: attractive in a Hollywood-esque kind of way, a regular at charity fundraisers, and a darling of the gossip columns. The New York magazine once wrote about her as wearing a “studded Loubutin boots…a Harry Winston diamond watch, while drinking a $9 cup of coffee.”

Her divorce in 2010 from David Slaine, a hedge fund executive, did not diminish her standing among Manhattan’s elite circle of Stepford-type spouses. She quickly rebounded with Casablanca Capital Chairman Donald Drapkin, according to reports, her legacy as a ‘Wall Street First Wife’ cast in enameled lava stone.

However on April 1, Elyse Slaine will have to go to court to answer charges brought against her by her former nanny and housekeeper of 14 years, Marichu De Sesto.

In court filings obtained by The FilAm, Judge Alison Nathan of the Southern District of New York ordered that “the time for Defendant Elyse Slaine to answer or otherwise move with respect to the Complaint shall be April 1, 2015.”

(The date has been extended to April 22, Slaine’s lawyer Howard Davis would clarify to The FilAm after the article came out.)

Domestic worker De Sesto of Lakewood, New Jersey has filed a case against Park Avenue couple David and Elyse Slaine for the following charges: Unpaid overtime wages; Unpaid earned wages; Failure to provide pay stubs; Breach of contract, among other charges, all in violation of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and New York State labor laws.

“Marichu worked as a nanny and housekeeper for the same family on Park Avenue for almost 15 years,” says a statement from Damayan Migrant Workers Association. “She was abruptly fired in May for requesting time off for medical appointments. She did not receive her pay for the month of May and is entitled to years of overtime pay.”

“The amount in controversy exceeds $75.000,” according to court papers.

Court documents filed February 17, 2015 by lawyers for the plaintiff state that De Sesto was hired by the Slaine couple on July 10, 2000. She was to work as the nanny for her daughter and as a housekeeper for the family’s Park Avenue residence and their summer house in the Hamptons.

“At the time of hiring, Defendants orally agreed with Ms. De Sesto that she would receive 10 days of paid vacation per year, holiday pay of double her daily rate for work performed on the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day; and an annual bonus,” states the court documents. “At no time did Defendants mention the number of hours Ms. De Sesto was expected to work; nor did they state the agreed salary would cover overtime pay.”

From about 2007 to 2013, de Sesto worked five days a week Monday to Friday and for the most part, was paid $170 a day. Her daily rate was raised to $200 a day in 2013.

There was no report on her working conditions from 2000, the year she was hired, up until 2007.

Her work calendar was divided into summer- and non-summer months. “Summer months” refer to the period from Memorial Day in May to Labor Day in September. The rest of the year refers to the regular, “non-summer months.”

During the non-summer months, De Sesto worked from about 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. on the first day of her work week. On most days, she worked from 6:45 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday is a different work schedule where she began at 6:45 a.m. and ended her day at 5:30 p.m.

Her daily duties, according to the documents, consisted of “cleaning, including mopping, doing dishes, emptying trash, and dusting all surfaces…washing and ironing clothes and bedsheets; feeding and administering medication to Defendants’ dogs; running errands, including purchasing groceries, cosmetics and other items; filling prescriptions; and serving as courier for documents; cooking meals, or serving takeout meals; and turning down defendants’ bed at night.”

These were her duties both at the Park Avenue duplex and the six-bedroom Southampton summer house.

She was practically a live-in housekeeper as she shared a guest room with another domestic worker, although she has a house in New Jersey. She did not keep her personal belongings in either of the Slaines’ homes and was not allowed to entertain visitors there.

On May 16, 2014, after more than 14 years of service, De Sesto was fired by Elyse Slaine. She believed it was Slaine’s way of “retaliating” because she asked permission to go for a medical check-up.

NEXT: Marichu De Sesto was not terminated; she quit: lawyer

The FilAm’s Investigative Reporting Project is made possible through the generous support of our readers and contributors including the following:
Consuelo Almonte
Melissa Alviar
Bessie Badilla
Sheila Coronel
Joyce and Arman David
Menchu de Luna Sanchez
Kathleen Dijamco
Jen Furer
Marietta Geraldino
Dennis Josue
Lito Katigbak
Rich Kiamco
Monica Lunot-Kuker
Michael Nierva
Lisa Esperame Nohs
Cecilia Ochoa
Rene & Veana Pastor
John Rudolph
Roberto Villanueva
2 anonymous donors

red line

One Comment

  1. […] INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING PROJECT: Housekeeper sues Wall Street socialite for unpaid wages of over $75… […]

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: