An investigative report exposes rampant workplace sexual abuse against female immigrant workers.
Yeung shares the illuminating and often shocking stories of harassment against low-wage, at-risk workers deemed vulnerable due to the nature of their immigration status and their dependence on their employment in order to support a family. Based on three years of reportage through her work with the Center for Investigative Reporting team, the author documents and updates several case studies of workplace abuse against domestic workers. During her research, Yeung accompanied an undercover investigator checking in with night-shift janitors embroiled in a “black vortex” of rampant abuse and unaccountability due to the silencing of those terrified of termination or worse. She met farmworkers, domestic help, and hotel and janitorial workers, many of whom shared stories of sexual assault and personal threats. These compelling examples of exploitation and dehumanization represent a pattern of abuse and a silent epidemic affecting (mainly) female immigrant workers across the country. The author notes how many are motivated by fear and a hostile anti-immigrant political climate to reluctantly accept the “open secret” of their fate as abused employees: “The combination of undocumented immigration status and worries about losing a job serve as a powerful muzzle.” Yeung also spotlights a wave of recent protective legislation and lawsuits brought against companies who are aware of the allegations against them yet choose to remain neutral and of the serpentine legal strategies involved in sexual harassment cases. These statistics alone point to an epidemic problem in dire need of outside intervention. In continuing to expose these atrocities, Yeung and those like her hope to call much-needed attention to the toxic environment these underserved workers are subjected to and bring about an end to their maltreatment. A hopeful chapter on the inroads made toward training workers on how to identify and report workplace violence signals a new understanding and valuing of domestic employment.
A timely, intensely intimate, and relevant exposé on a greatly disregarded sector of the American workforce.