A couple used a camera to spy on their nanny in the bathroom where she showered and changed, a nanny alleges.
Vanessa Rivas claims she agreed to take Lauren and Matthew Seltzer’s kids to swim lessons as long as she could use their bathroom to clean up afterwards, according to a Manhattan Supreme Court suit filed Friday.
After a year of working for the New York family, Rivas in January 2018 spotted a small, hidden camera in the bathroom where she regularly undressed, The New York Post reported.
She removed the memory card from the device before informing Lauren Seltzer of her discovery, saying that she felt “uncomfortable”.
“Immediately,” Seltzer “became defensive and hostile toward” Rivas, calling her 45 times and sending 26 text messages demanding the memory card’s return, the former nanny claims.
Rivas said when she later reviewed the camera footage, she found that the device was placed in the bathroom 15 minutes before she arrived — when just Lauren and the children were at home.
Rivas promptly quit. When she and her mother went to the Seltzers’ StuyTown apartment to drop off the keys, Lauren allegedly “became irate” and called the cops to help retrieve the memory card. Rivas said she turned it in at the local precinct.
About a week later, Lauren’s mother called and “attempted to persuade Rivas to sign a disclosure to avoid police contact,” Rivas’ lawsuit charges.
When Rivas refused, Lauren spread rumours to other nannies and parents that she was “irresponsible and crazy,” according to court papers.
The ordeal caused Rivas to “lose all of her business and seek therapy for her traumatic experience,” she alleges.
She claims her former employers violated her “reasonable right to privacy.”
Neither Rivas nor the Seltzers could be reached for comment.
The legality and ethics of nanny cams is a hot issue in parenting circles, according to Lynn Perkins, CEO of the Urban Sitter babysitting agency.
“This topic comes up a lot in our nanny/sitter Facebook group,” Perkins told The Post. “The majority of care providers assume the family will have a camera in the home.
“That being said, it goes a long way to establish trust and open communication with the sitter when the parent mentions it when the sitter comes into their home.”
Parents have a right to install and use hidden surveillance cameras — with some exceptions — Manhattan lawyer Jeffrey Goldman writes on his website.
“No employer has the right to install nanny cams in the bathroom used by the nanny or in the nanny’s private room if it is a live-in employment situation,” he states.
In May, a former CNBC television director was arrested for spying on his nanny with a hidden camera in the bathroom of his suburban New York home.
Daniel Switzen pleaded guilty to unlawful surveillance.