"Basic Instinct" actress Sharon Stone accused of mocking domestic employee's ethnicity and religious beliefs
Sharon Stone's basic instinct might be a little bit off — at least when it comes to how to treat the help.
"Casino" actress Stone is being sued by a woman claiming to be her former nanny, who says that Stone made disparaging remarks about her ethnicity and religious beliefs, and illegally fired her for receiving rightfully obtained overtime pay.
Erlinda T. Elemen claims that she began working for Stone in October 2006, and was promoted to head nanny of the actress' three children in September 2008.
In the suit, Elemen says that she would often deride Elemen's Filipino background, telling Elemen not to speak to the children because she didn't want them to "talk like you," making derogatory comments about Filipino food, and making comments "which equated being Filipino with being stupid."
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The suit also claims that Stone "criticized Plaintiff for frequently attending church and, on one occasion, forbade Plaintiff from reading the bible in Plaintiff's room in Defendant's residence."
A statement from Stone's publicist calls the lawsuit "absurd" and characterizes Elemen as "a disgruntled ex-employee who is obviously looking to get money any way she can."
Stone's publicist adds that, after she was fired, Elemen filed claims for "alleged disability" and worker's compensation.
"Now, she is obviously looking for another opportunity to cash in," the statement continues. "This is a frivolous lawsuit for absurd claims that are made-up and fabricated. Sharon Stone will be completely vindicated in court."
Elemen says that she was fired in February 2011, after refusing to return overtime pay that she'd earned while traveling with Stone's kids and on other occasions such as holidays. According to the suit, Stone accused her of "stealing" the overtime pay from her and told her it was "illegal" for her to receive the pay.
Alleging harassment, failure to prevent harassment, retaliation and wrongful termination, Elemen is seeking unspecified damages.
Elemen's attorney, Solomon Gresen, told TheWrap that he hopes the suit will draw attention to the broader issue of overtime pay for domestic employees.
"A common problem for employees in household occupations concerns the receipt of overtime and other wages," Gresen said. "When a celebrity does it, it only serves to draw attention to the fact that there are thousands of people who are being underpaid. Hopefully, the publicity generated from this lawsuit will be of benefit to others and will prompt some change in the lives of ordinary citizens."
Gresen added, "It's unfortunate when a California employee has to endure harassment, particularly a live-in employee who has little power to avoid the behavior."
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.