Correction to This Article
A Reliable Source item in the May 4 Style section was accompanied by an incorrect photograph. Because of a mislabeled caption on a photo provided by Getty Images, the man identified as John Rich of Big & Rich was actually Big Kenny, the other member of the duo.

Snyders, Former Nanny Take Each Other to Court

Redskins owner Dan Snyder and his wife Tonya
Dan Snyder and his wife, Tanya, are caught up in lawsuits concerning nanny Juliette Mendonca. (Jonathan Newton -- The Washington Post)

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By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Thursday, May 4, 2006

Redskins owner Dan Snyder and his wife, Tanya , have a nanny nightmare. The dispute between the Snyders and Juliette Mendonca has resulted in dueling lawsuits. The question before the Montgomery County Circuit Court: Did the nanny overcharge the Snyders, or did the high-profile couple overwork the babysitter?

The saga began in April 2003, when Mendonca was hired as a backup for the nanny who has cared for the Snyders' three children for 11 years. According to the Snyders' lawsuit, Mendonca spent most nights (6 p.m. to 5:30 a.m.) and weekends at the house, and worked weekdays for a Virginia family. After being fired from the day job in the summer of 2004, she lived full time at the Snyders' Bethesda residence until being let go that November.

The lawsuits revolve around the question of -- what else? -- money. Mendonca, 50, was initially paid $15 an hour, then got a $3 raise, receiving more than $160,000 during the 20 months she worked for the Snyders. Their suit claims she billed them for between 100 and 130 hours a week, including hours she was sleeping and was "neither asked to work, nor actually worked." The suit also argues that she was not eligible for overtime, and asks to recoup the excess wages. The Snyders declined to comment.

Mendonca claims she worked more than 6,000 overtime hours for the Snyders and deserves $60,000 in back pay and legal fees, as well as $180,000 in other damages. "You have to pay time-and-a-half if you work more than 40 hours a week," said Mendonca's attorney, Frank J. Coviello.

Yesterday, Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Joseph Dugan denied a motion by Mendonca to dismiss the Snyders' complaint, and consolidated the two lawsuits. The messy details -- contracts, timecards, whether sleeping is an official part of nanny's duties -- will be part of the discovery phase. But don't expect any fireworks until next year -- if the lawsuit makes it to trial.

A Champagne Bottle Was Popped, the Question Was Not

Jenna Bush has been stepping out with Henry Hager for a year and a half now, a point when any young couple might start mulling questions about the future, so it's natural if there was maybe a little frisson as they sat down to dinner Tuesday at Asia Nora.

The 24-year-old teacher (beaded light-green tunic, dark slacks) and her beau (who turns 28 next week) ordered a lavish meal, fellow patrons said. Then, as they shared a chocolate mousse, the wait staff brought champagne -- Jenna's flute with a mysterious note taped to the bottom. She read it and burst out laughing. "I thought you were proposing!" she hollered. "I nearly [soiled] my pants!"

Who knows what the note said; witnesses gleaned that it was an inside joke Henry wanted to deliver in a fortune cookie but didn't get ordered in time. The restaurant's not saying.

City Grammar: Nelly's Life Lessons

Nelly took the stage at McKinley Tech before about 150 teens yesterday afternoon and galvanized the room with this: "How's everybody doin'?"

Aaaaaaaaagggghhhh!!! Eeeeeeeeeeee!!!! It's not every day, after all, that a platinum-selling rapper visits your school.

He was the top draw at the Northeast school's "Safe Summer Campaign," an anti-violence initiative by the Ward 4 Education Council, hosted by WKYS's Jeannie Jones . Glowing in a black leather ball cap, diamond studs, meaty gold chain and his trademark grille, Nelly shared the stage with St. Louis rapper Murphy Lee.

"I had problems with aggression, I went through a lot," Nelly said. "Your families are the ones that will be there in the end; keep them close to you. My future is based on your future, know what I'm sayin'?" It's all right to "defend yourself," he said to big cheers -- just never strike first.

Then the inevitable question: How can you help me in the music biz? Nelly smirked. "That goes back to the famous quote: 'Hook a brother up!' . . . Keep singing, keep working your local circuits. That's why they're called 'breaks.' "

A Lesson in Face Value

Keith Burns and John Rich
Keith Burns and Big Kenny Alphin(AP and Getty Images)
Same hat, same smile, sorta same mustache -- but the cowboy pictured in Tuesday's column was actually Trick Pony's Keith Burns . At right, the real John Rich of Big & Rich, who tipped a bartender $1,000 over the weekend. This is the picture to tape next to the register, folks.

The Reliable Source appears Tuesday through Friday and on Sunday; Web chat is at noon Wednesdays. Got a tip? Send it to reliablesource@washpost.com.


© 2006 The Washington Post Company

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