California Domestic Workers Coalition

“Domestic workers like me shouldn’t have to worry about how to navigate potentially unsafe work environments.”

Currently I live and work as a caregiver in San Fernando Valley. I have been a caregiver here in the U.S. for 12 years. 

The biggest irony in the nature of my job is that I provide quality care, and yet I do not have access to health and safety protections in the workplace. 

Just last year, I had 2 injuries while on the job. The first one was in April 2022. I went out to throw the garbage and had a bad fall because there was an obstacle along the way. My employer, the owner of the agency, was very attentive to me and offered to help. I was very grateful to receive this support. But that is not the reality for all homecare workers who get hurt on the job. 

Photo by Riccardo Stanley Mejía

In November 2022, I had another injury while working. I was working as a live-in homecare worker for an elderly client in Orange County. My client did not want the lights turned on –  even when it was night time. This made it extremely difficult for me to perform some tasks in the dark. 

Because I was forced to literally work in the dark, I suffered another bad fall.  My doctor advised me that I had broken many bones because of the bad fall and that I needed to undergo surgery for my shoulder. As a result of this, I could not work for 10 months and the injury has permanently impacted the mobility of my shoulder.  

This time, I decided not to tell anyone about my injury. I was worried that I would not be able to fulfill my role as a caregiver. Also, I do not have paid sick days and I did not want to lose my regular source of income, or worse, lose my job entirely. 

Photo by Riccardo Stanley Mejía

I believe that everyone deserves to have a safe workplace, no matter what kind of work you do, no matter what color your skin is, and regardless of your immigration status. As a member leader at PWC, I outreach to homecare workers with information about their rights and how to stay healthy and safe in the workplace. Domestic workers like me shouldn’t have to worry about how to navigate potentially unsafe work environments.