Ethiopian woman claims US family exploited her

(AP) Portland, Oregon
An Ethiopian woman has filed a $1.1 million lawsuit against a family she worked for, saying they lured her to the United States with the promise of a good job and then exploited her.
Mulu Derbew, 32, alleges in her lawsuit filed in US District Court that a Salem-area doctor's family brought her to Oregon in 1996 to care for their two children, with the agreement that the job would not exceed 48 hours a week and would pay her $5 to $7.50 an hour.
But Derbew's lawsuit says the family essentially enslaved her, forcing her to work without pay for seven days a week, with a typical workday more than 13 hours long.
She said Dr Julie Gilbert and her then husband, Peter Kurian, kept her isolated from the outside world and took possession of her work papers. The Kurians forbade her from calling Ethiopia, according to the suit.
The family let Derbew's immigration paperwork lapse, according to the suit, and later threatened her when their acts were challenged.
Gilbert, her husband Kenneth Gilbert, and ex-husband Peter Kurian did not return calls seeking comment.
FBI officials said on Thursday they could not confirm whether they have an investigation open in the case.
The complaint states Derbew was able to get a visa, which is provided for victims of human trafficking.
The $1.1 million she seeks in the lawsuit includes lost wages and punitive damages.
According to the US Department of Justice, an estimated 800,000 to 900,000 victims are trafficked globally each year. Of those, about 18,000 are trafficked into the United States. Most are women and children.

posted by Ethiounited Moderator at9:33 PM


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