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California Nanny Gate. What went wrong?

October 14, 2010

Here in California we’ve had another “Nanny Gate” occur that could affect the governor’s race. I’d like to share a few of my thoughts on the subject. Having owned a prominent Los Angeles nanny agency for many years that only placed “legal” nannies I can say that most families didn’t care about this issue, any more than they cared about paying their nannies “on the books”. Families are interested in whether the person will be good for their children.

In the Meg Whitman case the family hired their housekeeper through a well known nanny agency in the Bay Area, Town & Country Resources. From what I’ve read the nanny agency did their job and got the documentation they needed from the housekeeper and no doubt gave the paperwork to the Whitman family.

What went wrong? The law is clear that employers and nanny agencies don’t have to verify the paperwork submitted to them. Thankfully they don’t have to decide if a Social Security card or Green Card is legitimate. Now E-verify is readily available to verify documents, but I don’t believe it was as well established when the housekeeper was hired as it is now.

My sympathies were with the family until they received the notice from the Social Security Administration saying the SSN didn’t match their employee’s name. That was the red flag. The family didn’t follow up on that and continued to keep the housekeeper employed without asking any questions.

If it were me, I would have investigated this issue further and since they considered the housekeeper a “member of the family” I would have done what we do for family—gotten right to work to help her get documentation. The nanny that works for my family for over 13 years now had a work permit that was renewed yearly. Eventually it would no longer be renewed and she would be “illegal”. We contacted an immigration attorney and through a long, arduous process that made it all the way to the Federal 9th Circuit of Appeals. She eventually obtained her Green Card and her life has been changed forever—as has our family’s.


5 Responses to California Nanny Gate. What went wrong?

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Jimmy Weir says:

I would be asking A LOT of questions if I got a warning like that! It’s crazy to me that they didn’t, and at that point I no longer feel sorry for them.

Samantha B. says:

I agree with you that they should have followed up on the SSN not matching – if the SS Administration is giving you a warning then you are responsible for making sure that all of your paperwork and your nanny’s paperwork is in order. It’s just not worth the risk.

elena ortega says:

you are a good nanny employer for doing that for your nanny. i hope to find a family that would be willing to do the same for me.

Jenny Patricks says:

It is a little suspect that they considered her a member of the family but weren’t willing to take the necessary steps to ensure that she got her proper documentation. Though I do think some of this is on the nanny too – she should be proactively trying to become a legal citizen.

Sarah G. says:

It’s sad that the agency did their work and the family trusted the agency’s word, only to find out later that the paperwork wasn’t valid. However, I think it’s important that we employ LEGAL employees instead of giving jobs to illegals. What incentive do they have to become legal if we hand out all the benefits to them of citizenship regardless?