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Did the Nanny Go too Far Using Eviction as a Reason Not to Vacate Her Job?

This past week we have been hearing updates from the case in California of the “Nanny Nightmare”. If you have not heard about the case let's fill you in, with a great summary from People Online Magazine: The Bracamonte's hired Diane Stretton as a live-in nanny to watch their children, ages 11, 4 and 16 months. When the arrangement failed, they decided to terminate the arrangement. However, the 64-year-old nanny refused to leave their home in Upland, California, she was aware of her rights as a tenant. It's not a favorable situation for the employer (Ralph and Marcella Bracamonte) because the laws regarding the housing agreement are different than those governing the employment arrangement, which they were not aware of in the original agreement.

Today's update, the Bracamontes say that Stretton has agreed to move out by July 4, under certain conditions.

The Bracamontes answer questions during their interview with People magazine that we know our Kalfus and Nachman audience is probably interested in knowing as well.

Question #1: Did the Bracamontes perform a background check?

The family had posted an ad on Craigslist, and Stretton seemed like a promising candidate. But did they check her out before hiring her? “Of course I did,” Marcella Bracamonte tells PEOPLE. “I'm a mom. My family is the most important thing, so of course I did. I called references. I didn't do a credit check, because I wasn't accepting money from her. I just didn't think it was necessary. I was too trusting.”

Question #2: When did things start to go wrong?

According to the Bracamontes, they were initially pleased with Stretton's work – until the third week. “She began slowing down,” says Bracamonte. “I thought maybe it was because she was a little older, but then things got worse the next week. And the next week.” Adds Ralph Bracamonte: “She didn't want to pick up anything anymore. She didn't want to help out.”

Question #3: Why can't the police remove Stretton from the home?

Because the employment agreement included a place to live, the family must go through the proper legal channels to evict her. “The eviction process is a civil action and, in some cases, can take months to complete,” says Cindy Bachman, a spokesperson for the San Bernardino County Sheriff. “Once the process is complete, a deputy will remove the tenant and lock them out. If the tenant refuses to leave, they could face arrest for trespassing and/or violation of a court order.”

Question #4: Can the family cut off her utilities or lock her out?

If they interfere with the nanny's room, the Bracamontes could face legal repercussions. “She came in as a nanny in exchange for services,” says the Bracamontes' attorney, Marc Cohen. (The laws regarding the housing agreement are different than those governing the employment arrangement.) “She was given a room. She has a legal right to that room. I don't think there is a legal obligation to feed her. There would be a legal obligation to ensure that she has lights, running water, things like that.”

Question #5: Maybe the Bracamontes could just make life miserable for her?

Under landlord/tenant laws, the Bracamontes cannot become roommates from hell. When Stretton felt that the Bracamontes had their television up too loud, she called the police. “We could be fined up to $1,000 for disrupting our tenant,” says Marcella. Adds Ralph, “My TV doesn't even have surround sound. It wasn't too loud.”

Question #6: Has Stratton done this before?

Although there is no record of a similar case involving employment as a nanny, PEOPLE has found Stretton's name attached to more than a dozen cases in three Southern California counties ranging from nonpayment to property damage to negligence. Of the 13 cases found by PEOPLE dating back to 2002, she is a plaintiff in 7 cases and a defendant in 6 more. ABC News reports that she is listed by California Courts as a vexatious litigant for abusing the legal system.

Reporting by Reagan Alexander and Johnny Dodd

Please note that employment law and tenant law vary from state to state. Please contact an experienced attorney before writing a contract that involves hiring an employee or bringing someone into your home. There are Employment Laws in VA and NC that you may not be aware, the “Nanny Nightmare” is a great example of a family posting a simply ad on Craig's List that went wrong with an employee. Call us if you have questions at Kalfus and Nachman we are always happy to assist. 757-461-4900.;

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