The Hired Help—Who’s Watching Whom?

It so happens that many of my clients are Jimmy Buffet fans, as am I. But, I wonder if they ever considered the lyrics of his song Gypsies In The Palace as they packed their bags to take their families on a month-long vacation to Europe. Of course, I’m not implying that they need to be concerned with their household staff raiding the liquor cabinet and swinging from the chandeliers. However, metaphorically, the song does raise the unsettling issue of just who is watching the hired help when you’re not looking. Although most high net worth families would like to believe that their longtime house manager or upstairs maid are staunchly loyal and beyond personal reproach, the unsettling facts reveal that domestic employees can be the family’s most exposed point of vulnerability. To be sure, in nearly all criminal or civil cases involving domestic employees, the domestic employer didn’t see it coming, and most wouldn’t have believed it would happen to them.


If you aren’t interested in California politics, you may not have heard this story about the maid who brought down a gubernatorial candidate. But since it also involved the publicity-seeking attorney, Gloria Allred, you probably did. It was the 2010 gubernatorial race, which pitted former governor Jerry Brown against political upstart and billionaire, Meg Whitman, also the former CEO of eBay. Whitman was also staunchly anti–illegal immigration. The polls ...

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