An Overtime Loss for Redskins Boss

Dan and Tanya Snyder in 2003. Now about that letter of reference . . .
Dan and Tanya Snyder in 2003. Now about that letter of reference . . . (Jonathan Newton - The Washington Post)

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By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Wednesday, March 14, 2007

It's chump change for Redskins owner Dan Snyder and his wife, Tanya. But a Montgomery County jury yesterday handed a victory of sorts to Juliette Mendonca, the Snyders' former nanny: $44,880 in overtime pay, after two days of testimony about the inner workings of the Snyder household.

Mendonca was hired in April 2003 to work weekends watching the Snyders' three young children, joining a staff that included a full-time day nanny, two housekeepers, a house manager, chef, driver and personal assistant. Six months later her duties were expanded to include nights, and she continued that schedule -- nights and weekends, at $18 an hour -- until she was dismissed in November 2004 in a salary dispute.

The 50-year-old native of India testified that she was instructed never to leave the children unattended and was not allowed to eat, shower, watch TV or sleep during her 12-hour shifts -- which routinely stretched to 24 hours on weekends, she said. And during one 24-day work marathon in the summer of 2004, she claimed, she didn't sleep at all. She was "watched constantly" by the Snyders, she asserted.

Mendonca testified that Tanya sometimes stayed in bed until lunchtime unless she had morning appointments. The kids, on the other hand, never slept well because the parents allowed them to eat candy before bedtime.

Nonsense, Tanya Snyder said on the stand. She testified that she was swamped overseeing construction on their new home in Potomac and was therefore reluctant to fire Mendonca, despite the fact she believed the nanny was padding her timecard and "completely taking advantage of the situation. . . . I would get billed every time she walked into Montgomery County." (An attorney for the Snyders argued that Mendonca was "setting them up.") Tanya said that she never expected anyone to work 24 hours a day and that she provided food and a guest room -- and she denied that Mendonca was asked to watch friends' children when they visited: "Just about everyone I know has a nanny," she pointed out, and they would troop into the house along with the kids.

Over the 20 months that she worked for the couple, Mendonca was paid more than $162,000. When the Snyders finally totaled her hourly wages, Dan Snyder said, "You know, you make more than the Redskins Park people I pay" and offered her a salary of about $70,000 a year -- or two weeks' notice.

Mendonca quit, and the couple received a letter two months later asking for overtime and damages, seeking $9 million to settle. At trial, she sought $60,000 in overtime wages and $180,000 in damages.

Is this the end? Maybe: The Snyders' lawyers said they were pleased with the verdict. Or maybe not: Carey Donly, a former house manager for the family, said Mendonca "kept lots of notes" and asserted that "one day she'd be on Oprah."

He's Come Thaaaat Far From Omaha, Thanks to the NEA!

"American Pie" star Chris Klein appears before a House subcommittee to support NEA funding.(Alex Wong - Getty Images)
Ooh, who's the cute new guy on the Hill? Oh, of course: another Hollywood dude making his "lobbying" debut -- Chris Klein.

The "American Pie" star, impeccable in a pinstriped suit and slicked-back hair, testified before the House Appropriations subcommittee on the interior with other showbizzy VIPs like Wynton Marsalis, seeking $176 million for the National Endowment for the Arts. Klein described how arts programs at his Omaha high school led to his discovery and his '99 movie debut, "Election."

So, what's it really like to work with Reese Witherspoon, asked "Access Hollywood's" Billy Bush -- no, sorry, 'scuse us, that was actually Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.), during the hearing. She was "amazing," said Klein, and she gave him "a full education on what it was going to take to make it in the business."

Okay, time for us to haze the newbie

a bit. How does it feel to be asked about ex-fiancee Katie Holmes all the time? Lo-o-ong pause. Klein glanced away, tensed his jaw, reddened. "Today is all about Arts Advocacy Day and, uh, I think it's best to stay on the subject."

Klein said he planned to linger in town today, his 28th birthday, to visit the Smithsonian museums. Cool -- anything else fun? "I can't think of anything I'd rather do than check out some history and check out some art on my birthday."

UPDATE

Things have gone from bad to worse for Diane Rehm, who is now recovering from pneumonia in addition to the ghastly eye injury she suffered when she mistook a vial of perfume for a vial of lens solution. The WAMU-FM talk show host, now on her second round of antibiotics, said her doctors think one led to the other. "The blow to the eye was such a trauma to the body," she told us. "It's been a siege." Rehm, 70, hopes to be back on the air Monday but didn't sound too optimistic.

HEY, ISN'T THAT ... ?

  • Donald Trump, making a "surprise" appearance in the ring at Verizon Center during a WWE "Raw" wrestling event Monday, where he and WWE honcho Vince McMahon flacked an upcoming pay-per-view match between their proxies, the winning CEO to shave the loser's head. The Donald topped things off by shoving McMahon backward across a table. So, there's a rumor these things are totally rigged -- whaddya think?
  • Wynonna Judd, dozing in first class most of the way through her San Fran-to-Dulles flight Monday evening. The country singer -- headed here to perform at last night's ASCAP tribute to Stevie Wonder -- wore jeans, a black leather jacket and aviator sunglasses; her hair was bright red, and she was looking thinner than usual.

  • © 2007 The Washington Post Company

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