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Abstract

This Article argues that the immense problem of on-the-job abuse experienced by domestic workers demands a multifaceted plan of attack. The proposed responses specifically draw upon the capacities, strengths, and resources of women, particularly comparatively privileged women, as both activists and employers of domestic workers. By describing the circumstances of domestic work in the United States from the nation's inception to the present, Part I demonstrates the prevalence and intractability of on-the-job physical and sexual abuse and argues that other women, as employers of domestic workers, have historically played a complex role in participating in, condoning, or failing to acknowledge this abuse. Part II asserts that the legal and socioeconomic contexts of contemporary domestic work reflect the prevalence of immigrant women of color in the contemporary domestic workforce and the unique challenges they face as workers in the U.S. Part III examines the present-day incidence of harassment and violence against domestic workers-as revealed through newspaper accounts, interviews with domestic workers, and case law-and analyzes common threads of experience in these narratives. Based on these findings, this Part contends that physical and sexual abuse suffered by many domestic workers combines elements of workplace harassment with characteristics typical of "domestic violence," making this abuse more challenging to combat than "standard" workplace harassment.