I was underpaid so I stole – Domestic worker
A 40-year-old female domestic worker, who stole hundreds of dollars’ worth of clothing and other items from her employer, justified her actions to the court by submitting that she was being underpaid.
“Guilty with an explanation” Valcina Ollivierre told Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett without hesitation, when she was read the long list of items that she was accused of stealing from her employer and his brother-in-law.
After tallying a blender, two book bags, one pair of headphones, four wash cloths, a pair of Nike Slippers, two dresses, one pair of jeans, a swimsuit and many others; the charge estimated the items stolen to be valued at $960 for Mohammed Eid, and $575 for Mohammed Afaneh.
The incident is said to have occurred on November 16, in Cane Garden. Ollivierre had been hired as a domestic to work at the home of the Mohammeds, who own several businesses. She had access to a storeroom on the premises, and one day, the complainant’s wife returned and found the defendant in the storeroom. She reported this to her husband, and when checks were made, items were found missing.
However, after the police were informed, they recovered all of the items in the defendant’s possession.
“Well when I go there to work with them,” Ollivierre told the magistrate, “he told me that he will pay me $40 a day.”
“When I see my pay slip he wasn’t paying me $40 a day, he was paying me like $171 a week,” she said.
The defendant contended that when she asked her boss about it, he told her he wasn’t ready to deal with it as yet. She had a key for the downstairs area, where the family kept some “stuff”.
“So I say that I will take some of the things and them,” to wear, she noted. Most of the items she stole were clothing.
It was her view that when she checked the records, she was only being paid $30 a day.
“Let me ask you something. So if you working for a man, and the man short pay you, you could just go and take the man stuff?” the magistrate queried.
“Look if the man is short paying you, go to the Labour Department and complain. You can’t go and take people stuff,” he told her, and that there are laws concerning her issue.
He reiterated that the Labour Department would address the matter if she complained, but “short paying you did not and does not give you the right to go and take,” all of the things that she did.
However, the senior magistrate did not continue, and asked for Ollivierre’s employer to be present for the sentencing.
After the complainant came to court, Mohammed contended that Ollivierre was paid daily, amounting to $180 a week after the NIS deduction. He reiterated that she never complained to him or anyone. He contended that he also had records, and that there were days such as Independence and Election day that she did not work, and therefore would not have been paid.
There was also a week where she worked an extra day, and she was paid $210.
He mentioned that she asked him for money to buy a bottle of cooking gas, and he gave this to her. When she was going to pay this $40 back, he told her to keep it, he said.
Mohammed also claimed that Ollivierre had also stolen something that his children kept money in.
“Miss Ollivierre at least you can attempt to show some remorse,” Burnett addressed the defendant, who replied that she only knew about the clothes.
“You are being told that what was done by you was not the right thing to do and you show absolutely no remorse at all, none,” Burnett said.
“You can’t even attempt to show some remorse in front of the court, just attempt nuh. You can laugh about it outside, but at least try to convince me that you show some remorse.”
“I’m very sorry about it,” she said.
Although Ollivierre is now unemployed, she and her boyfriend sometimes sell fruit. Therefore, the magistrate settled on a fine as punishment.
She must pay $750 by January 29, or spend three months in prison.
Since the items were recovered they will be restored to the rightful owners.