Workplace Protections Haven't Always Included Domestic Workers, Some Lawmakers Want to Change That

Democrats in Richmond are pushing a hike in the minimum wage, hoping to make life easier for low-income working Virginians. But without another change in the law, that increase won’t apply to domestic workers. 

In Virginia, worker protections like unemployment compensation, anti-discrimination laws, or even the minimum wage don’t apply to domestic workers. 

Democratic Delegate Wendy Gooditis is backing legislation to change that. She says the issue is close to her heart. Her elderly parents are able to stay at home because of two women who serve as their health aides. 

“They’re the most generous caring loving souls,” said Gooditis during a press conference, adding the two women deserve “the minimum wage, protections, all kinds of benefits.” 

Domestic workers were first excluded from worker protections because the jobs were primarily done by women of color. That’s still the case today. Senator Jennifer McClellan says it’s past time to fix that racial injustice. 

“We would not have the American economy we have today, but for these workers,” McClellan said. “It is time they have the protections we give other workers because they are the foundation of our economy.” 

Many home health aides are paid by the state, reimbursed through Medicaid. That means higher pay will come with a price tag for taxpayers.

 

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