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Labor laws largely exclude nannies. Some are banding together to protect themselves

NEW YORK (AP) — Map all doors in the home and figure out how to escape. Make a list of items in each room that you can use to defend yourself. Shelves, dishes, night stands, kitchen knives — all can be weapons if you are attacked.

These are among the strategies Judith Bautista Hidalgo teaches her students — 25 Hispanic women working as nannies, housekeepers and home care workers in the New York City area — to defend themselves on the job. She hopes her April training on preventing sexual harassment will be a lifeline for many in the classroom who have experienced assault or abuse at work.

Domestic workers like those in Hidalgo’s class are excluded from many federal workplace protections in the United States, and the private, home-based nature of the work means abuse tends to happen behind closed doors.

Although many domestic workers are covered under federal minimum wage and overtime laws, part-time and live-in workers are still exempt from some provisions. And domestic workers are generally excluded from Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — a federal law banning workplace discrimination, including sexual harassment — since it only applies to employers with 15 or more employees.

Neither are domestic workers covered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which aims to ensure safe and healthy conditions for workers.

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