Andrew Rubin, Esq.

Diplomatic immunity can snag New Jersey breach of contract claims

When breach of contract claims involve diplomats, another set of laws seems to often be at play. This can be difficult for those who are the victims in breach of contract claims, as they can have trouble getting their fair shake in court. This is something one woman from New Jersey discovered to her surprise.

Her case involves what she called forced labor. She was brought into the New Jersey household of two diplomats who were originally from Peru. The woman was supposed to do domestic work and chores, but she claims she wound up being treated more like a slave than an employee.

The woman's complaint reads like a laundry list of horrible working conditions, including 16-hour work days without being allowed to take any days off. She says she wasn't compensated much -- or sometimes at all -- for her work. Additionally, she claims that her passport was taken by the couple so she could not leave the country. In April 2013, she escaped from their home, although how she escaped is not clear.

Unfortunately, the Peruvian couple's diplomatic immunity was cited by a federal judge as grounds for his dismissal of the breach of contract lawsuit filed by the worker. However, the court pointed out that the ruling does not negate the plaintiff from trying again. That's one of the lessons that those involved in breach of contract claims often learn: when one door closes, it isn't always time to throw in the towel. There are often several ways to prove a case; for the woman, she will only need to wait until the diplomatic immunity of the couple she says enslaved her is lifted.

Source: northjersey.com, Forced-labor suit against ex-diplomats in Wayne dismissed based on immunity, Peter J. Sampson, Jan. 15, 2014

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