Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Thursday, July 26, 2012

How The Murdoch Family Treats The Help

Must read piece in Gawker last week about how Rupert Murdoch and his wife Wendi treated a former staffer and tutor of their children:

A former household staffer and tutor for Rupert Mudoch and Wendi Deng's children is speaking out for the first time about the relentless nightmare that is working for the Murdochs: Screaming tantrums, nannies discarded by the side of the road on a whim, no benefits, unpaid overtime, young girls body-shamed by their mother—and near abandonment for workers injured on the job.

Ying-Shu Hsu spent more than year as a full-time Chinese tutor and nanny to Rupert Murdoch and Wendi Deng's daughters, Chloe and Grace. Six years ago, while holding then 2-year-old Chloe in her arms, she tripped over a tricycle in the Murdochs' Beverly Hills home and fractured her knee, causing permanent damage. Unable to work and cut off from workers' compensation benefits owing to the Murdochs' shoddy paperwork, Hsu was sent packing with a severance payment and told never to contact the family again. She sued the Murdochs unsuccessfully for damages in 2007 (the lawsuit has never been previously reported), and has never been able to work since. She lives off Social Security now.

Read the whole piece. It's horrifying. Wendi Deng comes off much worse than Rupert in the piece, but remember, he's the one paying the staff like this:

Deng, Hsu says, was notorious among her household staff for being cheap, despite her husband's fortune. Food in the refrigerator, Hsu said, was strictly labelled for Rupert and the kids and was hands off for the staff. Hsu's hours were supposed to be from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., but Deng frequently asked her to work later, especially when the family was travelling, and never paid her overtime. Her job included no benefits, paid vacation, or sick leave—perks that are routinely afforded to nannies in New York (and are now mandatory under a recently passed Domestic Workers Bill of Rights). When the Murdochs were away and Hsu wasn't travelling with them, she didn't get paid. Though Hsu's nominal salary at $3,000 per month totaled $36,000 per year, with unpaid vacations and time off when the Murdochs travelled without her, she ended up earning just $26,200 in 2005. For perspective, according to a 2011 survey of nanny employment practices in Brooklyn conducted by Park Slope Parents, 8 in 10 families reported continuing to pay their nanny for regular hours while they were away. And the average Brooklyn nanny received more than 11 paid days off per year.

What's more, the Murdochs' household corporation, KRM Services (as in Keith Rupert Murdoch), classified Hsu as a self-employed independent contractor despite the fact that she was clearly a household employee. According to tax documents disclosed in Hsu's lawsuit against the Murdochs, KRM Services treated Hsu as a 1099 employee and didn't withhold any taxes or pay the employer's share of her Social Security taxes in 2005. IRS guidelines make it abundantly clear that if "you can control not only what work is done" by an employee "but how it is done," then that staffer qualifies as a household employee for whom employment taxes must be paid. There is no question based on Hsu's description of her job that Deng had total control over what she did and how she did it. Indeed, during the course of Hsu's litigation, Deng filed a sworn declaration with the court affirming that she controlled the "time, manner, and place of where Ying-Shu Hsu performed her work [sic].

Here's how Ms. Hsu was injured while in the Murdoch's employ:

In January 2006, while travelling with the Murdochs to their Beverly Hills estate, Hsu was working late caring for Chloe and Grace. At 5:30 p.m., Chloe demanded a certain kind of yogurt that the Murdochs had run out of. Chloe didn't believe Hsu when she told her there wasn't anymore, so Hsu carried Chloe in her arms to the refrigerator to prove it to her. Along the way, she tripped over a tricycle in the kitchen. Since she was carrying a two-year-old, Hsu couldn't maneuver her body to protect herself as she fell. She broke her kneecap.

"My bone was sticking out," she says. A housekeeper rushed her to the hospital, where doctors told her she needed surgery. But the surgeon's schedule was booked, so Hsu spent four days in excruciating pain at the Murdochs' in Beverly Hills, wearing a temporary cast and taking painkillers. "Wendi told me it was no big deal," she said. "Rupert broke his leg skiing once and he was fine."

After her surgery, Hsu recuperated at the Murdochs' for another two weeks before she was well enough to travel home on January 27. When she left, she says, Wendi promised she could come back to work as soon as she was feeling up to it. "She verbally told me, 'After you get better, you can come back,'" Hsu said. Not long after, Deng's secretary sent her a personal check from Deng for $5,000, or just under two months' salary. After that, nothing.

"She never contacted me or followed up," Hsu said. "I tried to contact her in June—I hadn't worked in almost six months. But I could only leave messages, and she never called back. In July, her secretary sent me a check for $3,000 and said, 'You're on your own. Don't bother us any more.'" At that time, Hsu was still on crutches, with two steel pins in her knee. She wasn't in much of a position to seek new employment, but felt that—despite the job's unpleasant aspects—she could have continued on with the Murdochs as Deng, she says, had promised.


Through it all, Hsu got nothing aside from a total of $8,000—roughly two-and-a-half months salary—in severance from Deng. Five years after the accident, she walks with a limp. Throughout her long rehabilitation, during which she was severely impaired and in pain, she got none of the workers' compensation benefits to which she as entitled. By the time evidence of her coverage emerged four years later, she had recovered to the point where a doctor no longer found her to be impaired enough for benefits. She moved to Las Vegas, gave up on pursuing anything from workers' compensation, and lives off her Social Security benefits. She feels embittered at both the Murdochs and her own lawyer, James Napoli, whom she feels abandoned her after the Murdochs' belated discovery. And she suspects—without evidence—that Napoli folded in the face of a powerful adversary. Napoli did not return a phone message.

Hsu never spoke to Deng again after the accident. Today, she has a simple message for her: "Treat people fairly and nicely. That's how you keep people. She's mean."

Treating the staff like serfs, cheating on employee taxes and Social Security, trying to cheat an insurance company, dropping an employee injured in his employ like a broken children's toy, and letting his wife terrorize staff like she's Catherine the Great - that's Rupert Murdoch for you.

No wonder he has such disdain for teachers.

He sees us as extensions of the household staff - to be treated the way he and his wife treated Ms. Hsu.


  1. Why hasn't Rupert Murdoch been put in jail?
    Could there be a huge double standard here?