Actress Sharon Stone is the target of a lawsuit from a former live-in nanny alleging derogatory slurs, false accusations of stealing and termination without cause.
The complaint, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court Wednesday, alleges that in 2010, Stone began subjecting Erlinda Elemen to slurs about her Filipino heritage, accent, food and Christian religion. The lawsuit also says that Stone requested Elemen stop talking to the children so that they wouldn't "talk like you."
Stone is also accused of ridiculing Elemen for attending church, and once forbidding her from reading the Bible in the actress' home.
The lawsuit alleges that things got worse for Elemen in January 2011. Stone paid her overtime for working during holidays and traveling, but the complaint says she later accused the nanny of "stealing" by accepting the overtime pay. After Elemen complained and refused to return the pay, Stone began reducing her hours and berating her in front of other staff. By the next month, Elemen was fired for no reason, the lawsuit says.
Elemen, a Filipino immigrant and U.S. legal resident, began working for the actress in 2006. She was promoted to head nanny of Stone's household in 2008, which means Elemen became a live-in caretaker for all three of Stone's children and traveled with them when necessary.
Elemen is represented by Los Angeles attorney Solomon Gresen. "Because abuses in overtime pay are common for household employees, it seems ironic that Ms. Stone initially did the right thing and paid Mrs. Elemen overtime wages, and then terminated her for accepting those same wages," said Gresen in a statement announcing the lawsuit.
Speaking through her lawyer, Elemen, 52, told The Huffington Post that she came to the U.S. in 1998 and has worked in child care since. While employed by Stone, she helped support her two children and two grandchildren in Singapore and the Philippines. After being terminated by the actress, Elemen was only able to find sporadic work and has been unable to send money to her family.
Upon reviewing the filed complaint, Aquilina Soriano, executive director of the Pilipino Workers Center in Los Angeles, praised Elemen for having the courage to sue her former employer.
"It is very common that domestic workers are put down because it's in the realm of servantry," said Soriano to The Huffington Post. "I think it's really great that she is filing a case, because a lot of times people are too afraid to file a case against these things."
"I think there is discrimination against the Filipino accent, and we've seen it in other cases ... if it were a French accent, it probably won't have been seen as a negative," Soriano said.
In response to the complaint, Stone's representatives released this statement to The Huffington Post:
This is an absurd lawsuit that has been filed by a disgruntled ex-employee who is obviously looking to get money any way she can. After she was terminated approximately 1½ years ago, she filed claims for alleged disability and workers' compensation. Now, she is obviously looking for another opportunity to cash in. This is a frivolous lawsuit for absurd claims that are made-up and fabricated. Sharon Stone will be completely vindicated in court.
Stone is a model, actress and producer. Her most well-known work includes the 1992 feature film "Basic Instinct" and 1995's "Casino." She also had a recurring role on the television show "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" in 2010.
Stone has three adopted sons. She and former husband Phil Bronstein adopted in 2000 while still married, and she adopted two more on her own in 2005 and 2006.
This isn't Stone's first conflict with household help. In 1997, housekeeper Socorro del Carmen pleaded guilty to receiving stolen property from Stone's home. She was sentenced to 16 months in prison and ordered to pay $50,000 in restitution.