Over the weekend, PN Lawyers was featured in a New York Post story about a high-profile employment and labor case.
The Case: Philip Bobbitt, a Columbia Law Professor, Former Advisor to Three Presidents, and Nephew of LBJ is being sued by his housekeeper Sophia Samuels for low wages and no overtime pay.
Our head of Employment & Labor Department, Ariadne Panagopoulou is Samuel’s attorney. Read her passionate statement below:
“‘It is the epitome of hypocrisy,’ said Samuels’ attorney, Ari Panagopoulou. ‘You would think that a constitutional law professor would know and respect the law, especially, one who purportedly champions the downtrodden and the underdogs.'”
A Columbia Law professor who’s advised three presidents and was the nephew of another is being sued in federal court by his allegedly badly-underpaid housekeeper.
Blueblood Philip Bobbitt — who lived in the White House for a summer with his uncle, LBJ, and who spent his youth fighting poverty — doesn’t practice what he preaches, claims Sophia Samuels, who says she was paid only $500 for grueling, 80-hour work weeks.
“It is the epitome of hypocrisy,” said Samuels’ attorney, Ari Panagopoulou. “You would think that a constitutional law professor would know and respect the law, especially, one who purportedly champions the downtrodden and the underdogs.”
Samuels, a 45-year-old mother of three, began working for the 70-year-old Texan and his lawyer wife, Maya, in March 2016 as a housekeeper and “de facto nanny” to their two young children.
From that time until August 2016, she was paid a “flat salary” of $500 per week, “regardless of the amount of hours she worked.” She then got a raise to $550, but was never paid overtime, court papers state.
Samuels was tasked with cleaning the Bobbitts’ luxurious 15th-floor apartment in the palatial Art Deco 26-story River House on 52nd St.
As part of her duties, Samuels accompanied the Bobbitts on family vacations across Europe and the U.S. However, it was hardly glitz and glamour as “she was subjected to long working hours, ranging from 75 to 80 hours per week,” as the “young children required constant supervision,” according to court papers.
Maya Bobbitt piled on additional chores, making Samuels — who was paid once a month — cook, iron, do laundry, walk the dog and care for the kids during the weekends, the suit says.
According to the housekeeper, there were times when she would be asked to babysit on short notice.
When Samuels found out that Maya Bobbitt was expecting her third child in October 2018, she became frustrated that the Bobbitt family would expect her to put in even more hours without additional pay.
By that time, she was being paid $725 a week but still allegedly not getting any OT.
“After repeatedly asking and being repeatedly refused her owed overtime, she had no option but to leave,” Panagopoulou said.
Samuels said that after she gave her two-week notice in December, Maya Bobbitt “worked me to the bone, from sunup to sundown.”
The Manhattan federal court suit claims the Bobbitts violated the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and New York Labor Law.
“I don’t want to try this in the press,” said the soft-spoken Philip Bobbitt. whose mother was the sister of President Lyndon Baines Johnson. He lived in the White House during the summer of 1964 after finishing high school, while working the West Wing.
The lawsuit allegations belie his deeds.
In the late 1960s, he quit Princeton after one year to work at a poverty program in Los Angeles for two years.
The Independent once described Bobbitt, who counseled Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton as “the presidents’ brain.”
“The allegations are not accurate. If the allegations were true, I’d be a wretched person and poor employer,” he said. “Sophia Samuels is a lovely, intelligent, hard-working, very capable person. We were pleased to employ her for many months.”