Photo: ABC News
On November 9th, Edith Mendoza’s and Sherile Pahagas’ case against their former employers, German diplomat Pit Koehler and wife Mareike Koehler, was dismissed due to diplomatic immunity.
Edith and Sherile, two Filipina domestic workers and Damayan leaders, sued their former employers for stolen wages. They worked for the Koehlers at separate times, were forced to labor 90-100 gruelling hours a week, and were paid well below the minimum wage (about $4/hour) with no overtime pay. They are owed $368,402.94 in damages, plus interest and attorney’s fees.
However, because of diplomatic immunity, Pit and Mareike Koehler could not be subjected to a lawsuit or prosecution under the US laws, and the case was dismissed.
Damayan shares Edith and Sherile’s outrage, pain and grief with the outcome of the case. On November 19th, Damayan held a Facebook Live chat with Edith and Sherile for them to speak directly about their experiences of horrible abuse from the Koehlers. During the chat, Edith and Sherile detailed the exploitation they faced and the next steps for the campaign.
Edith and Sherile were also interviewed by ABC News on November 10th. In the interview, Edith told the journalist, Kaelyn Ford, “I came here with nothing. I came here with a great promise, they lured me here with promises, but they were lies,” Mendoza said. “I thought, if I don’t do anything about this, they will do it again and again to another domestic worker.”
Edith and Sherile have vowed to continue their fight for justice and Damayan stands in firm solidarity with them and all labor trafficking survivors.