Frivolous Lawsuit for Child Neglect/Abuse...

by Sandra
(New York CIty, NY, USA)

I filed in small claims court against my (former) employer, a multi-millionaire, for unpaid wages. I worked for her in Vienna, Austria, and NYC. I was mistreated and had a horrid experience, which I shared with other nannies (I did not take the job permanently, it was 10-day trial). In retaliation, she had lawyers send me a letter, threatening to sue me for defamation, and even child neglect/abuse!

She claims that the small mark on her minor child's hand which doctors told her, in my presence, was an infection (and which healed in a matter of days), was actually a burn injury and that I, the nanny, was responsible.

After the mother discovered the mark and consulted doctors, she continued to leave her children (both 14months, twins) in my care. Further, she continued to house me with quarters on a shared floor with the children - as the ONLY ADULT - while she slept in her room, downstairs, without so much as a child monitor.

Further, after I told her that I did not want to work for her long-term (this was also after her discovery of the mark and after the doctor's exam) she requested that I extend my (temporary) employment with her until she could find someone else in NYC. I told her I could not, and that I wanted to end my employ with her ASAP.

My last day of work was on a flight from Vienna to NYC, and then at JFK airport. There was an entire airplane of witnesses to me working as nanny for both children. This was hardly the behavior of a mother who suspects child abuse for one second.

Do I have anything to worry about? What if she refuses to pay my wages and/or sues me for child abuse? Any information you can give would be much appreciated. Thanks.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Frivolous Lawsuit for Child Neglect/Abuse...":

Sandra (New York City, NY, USA):

You are right about the mother leaving the children with you after the mark on the child’s hand was discovered. She could hardly accuse you of child abuse or neglect if she had reason to believe you were responsible for her child's injury and still left the child and his siblings in your care.

If she did believe you injured her child and left the injured child and his siblings in your care it conceivably would be the mother who should be accused of child neglect instead of you.

If the mother and her attorneys believe you were responsible for the child’s injury either through commission or omission they probably wouldn’t sue you in civil court. Instead they would have to report the injury to the Office of the District Attorney or to the New York City Police.

If they do that an investigation might ensue. The authorities might want to ask you some questions about what happened to the child. At that time you can refuse to speak with them, hire an attorney, or both. You can also speak with them if you wish without having your attorney present.

From the facts you present, especially those which include the mothers leaving the children with you after she suspected abuse, and the apparently minor injury to the child, it is very unlikely you will hear from the mother, her attorney, or the authorities.

It’s up to you whether you want to pursue the small claims lawsuit. Regrettably, the mother’s attorneys are paid to protect their client and they will probably not back down.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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