Qatari royals are sued by three ex staffers who claim they were forced to work without overtime pay

One of the world’s wealthiest royal couples is being sued by three former staffers who claim they were forced to work up to 100 hours a week without overtime pay and were required to stay awake until their four children went to bed, DailyMail.com can disclose.

The sister of Qatar’s ruling emir, Sheikha al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, and her husband are facing suits from personal trainer Graham Bancroft, bodyguard Chantelle McGuffie and tutor Benjamin Boyd over their alleged illegal employment practices.

Their suit claims they frequently worked overtime without compensation and were denied days off while traveling with the royal family on luxury trips to Croatia, اليونان و إيطاليا.

In his own additional claim against the couple, Boyd claims he was promptly fired in retaliation after he requested to be paid for working the extra hours.

The former staffers are demanding to be paid thousands of dollars in lost wages, but the Al-Thanis deny the allegations and argue they are protected by diplomatic immunity, according to court papers filed in New York last Thursday.

The sister of Qatar's ruling emir, Sheikha al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, and her husband Sheikh Jassim bin Abdulaziz Al Thani are facing suits from three former staffers

The sister of Qatar's ruling emir, Sheikha al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, and her husband Sheikh Jassim bin Abdulaziz Al Thani are facing suits from three former staffers

The sister of Qatar’s ruling emir, Sheikha al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, and her husband Sheikh Jassim bin Abdulaziz Al Thani are facing suits from three former staffers

Chantelle McGuffie was taken on as personal security detail for Sheikha al Mayassa in March last year. She frequently found herself working seven-day weeks and 14-hour days on trips abroad without overtime, according to the suit

Chantelle McGuffie was taken on as personal security detail for Sheikha al Mayassa in March last year. She frequently found herself working seven-day weeks and 14-hour days on trips abroad without overtime, according to the suit

Chantelle McGuffie was taken on as personal security detail for Sheikha al Mayassa in March last year. She frequently found herself working seven-day weeks and 14-hour days on trips abroad without overtime, according to the suit

Personal trainer Graham Bancroft

Personal trainer Graham Bancroft

Tutor Benjamin Boyd

Tutor Benjamin Boyd

Personal trainer Graham Bancroft (left) and tutor Benjamin Boyd (right) are also suing the royal couple for their alleged illegal employment practices

The case threatens a string of embarrassing headlines for the wealthy couple and a glimpse inside their extravagant lifestyle.

Sheikha al Mayassa is chairwoman of the Qatar Museums Authority and her reported $1 billion a year budget has made her a powerful force in the art world, responsible for the acquisition of Cezanne’s Card Players for $250 million in 2011 – a record price for a painting at the time.

While there isn’t a definitive number on Sheikha al Mayassa’s vast wealth, the royal family has a net worth in the multi-billions of dollars. The small country was reported to own three times more property in London than the Queen of England, as well as more property than the Mayor of London’s office.

Current ruling emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, a life-long soccer fan, purchased the French soccer team Paris Saint-Germain in 2011. In 2017, the team paid $263 million for Brazilian striker Neymar – the highest transfer fee ever paid for a player.

It’s clear that Sheikha al Mayassa brought her lavish lifestyle from Doha over to New York, living in a giant Upper East Side mansion.

Media reports detailed how the state of Qatar bought two East 72nd Street townhouses, combining them into a single home with enough space for the princess’s art collection, an indoor swimming pool, plus an 8,500-square-foot roof terrace.

In 2017, the gas-rich state bought a third property – a $41 million townhouse on East 73rd Street – just for their staff.

But despite the luxury accommodation, lawyers for Boyd, McGuffie and Bancroft said it appeared that ‘noblesse oblige’ – the duty of privileged people to look out for those less fortunate – did not extend to the royals’ staff in New York.

Qatar's royal family reportedly bought a third property in New York that will be used for their loyal servants. The nation purchased the home for $41 million for the townhouse located on 73rd Street (pictured)

Qatar's royal family reportedly bought a third property in New York that will be used for their loyal servants. The nation purchased the home for $41 million for the townhouse located on 73rd Street (pictured)

Qatar’s royal family reportedly bought a third property in New York that will be used for their loyal servants. The nation purchased the home for $41 million for the townhouse located on 73rd Street (pictured)

But despite the luxury accommodation, lawyers for Boyd, McGuffie and Bancroft said it appeared that 'noblesse oblige' - the duty of privileged people to look out for those less fortunate - did not extend to royal staff in New York

But despite the luxury accommodation, lawyers for Boyd, McGuffie and Bancroft said it appeared that 'noblesse oblige' - the duty of privileged people to look out for those less fortunate - did not extend to royal staff in New York

But despite the luxury accommodation, lawyers for Boyd, McGuffie and Bancroft said it appeared that ‘noblesse oblige’ – the duty of privileged people to look out for those less fortunate – did not extend to royal staff in New York

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The lawsuit claims: ‘The workers were required to sign contracts, stating that ”while traveling with the principal (ie the family), days off will not be granted. During these times, all staff is required to be on duty at all times without extra pay.”’

‘That provision is illegal under state and federal labor laws.’

Bancroft began his working as a personal trainer for the couple in 2015 at a salary of $5,440 per month along with a furnished two bedroom apartment.

The lawsuit claims he was required to travel with the family around the United States, Europe and Doha, and was expected to stay up until the family’s four children had gone to bed.

That meant he would often work 90-hour, seven-day weeks without any overtime pay. His contract was terminated in October without the specified four-week notice period, according to the suit.

Boyd said he left a post at the University of Chicago’s School of Divinity to take on an $80,000 post, working 40 hours a week, as tutor to the couple’s four children in September last year, according to court documents.

However, he was also expected to accompany one of the children during recreational activities such as horse riding in Connecticut.

He alleges that he quickly found himself working 50 hours a week. But when he raised the matter of overtime he was fired by Sheikha al Mayassa the next morning, without being paid for any of the time he worked, according to court documents.

McGuffie was taken on as personal security detail for Sheikha al Mayassa in March last year. Again she frequently found herself working seven-day weeks and 14-hour days on trips abroad without overtime, according to the suit.

Her contract was also terminated without notice and she did not receive her final paycheck, the suit claims.

The former staffers accuse the royal couple of multiple breaches of New York employment law, including failure to record hours worked and paying overtime.

Sheikha al Mayassa (pictured with German Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel in 2017) is chairwoman of the Qatar Museums Authority, and her reported $1 billion a year budget has made her a powerful force in the art world, responsible for the acquisition of Cezanne's Card Players for $250 million in 2011 – a record price for a painting at the time

Sheikha al Mayassa (pictured with German Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel in 2017) is chairwoman of the Qatar Museums Authority, and her reported $1 billion a year budget has made her a powerful force in the art world, responsible for the acquisition of Cezanne's Card Players for $250 million in 2011 – a record price for a painting at the time

Sheikha al Mayassa (pictured with German Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel in 2017) is chairwoman of the Qatar Museums Authority, and her reported $1 billion a year budget has made her a powerful force in the art world, responsible for the acquisition of Cezanne’s Card Players for $250 million in 2011 – a record price for a painting at the time

McGuffie claims her contract was also terminated without notice and she did not receive her final pay check

McGuffie claims her contract was also terminated without notice and she did not receive her final pay check

Boyd (pictured) said he left a post at the University of Chicago to take on an $80,000 post but when he raised the matter of overtime he was fired by Sheikha al Mayassa the next morning, without being paid for any of the time he worked, according to the suit

Boyd (pictured) said he left a post at the University of Chicago to take on an $80,000 post but when he raised the matter of overtime he was fired by Sheikha al Mayassa the next morning, without being paid for any of the time he worked, according to the suit

McGuffie (left) claims her contract was also terminated without notice and she did not receive her final pay check. Boyd (right) said he left a post at the University of Chicago to take on an $80,000 post but when he raised the matter of overtime he was fired by Sheikha al Mayassa the next morning, without being paid for any of the time he worked, according to the suit

Bancroft (pictured) began his working as a personal trainer for the couple in 2015 at a salary of $5,440 per month along with a furnished two bedroom apartment. The lawsuit claims he was required to travel with the family around the United States, Europe and Doha, and was expected to stay up until the family's children had gone to bed

Bancroft (pictured) began his working as a personal trainer for the couple in 2015 at a salary of $5,440 per month along with a furnished two bedroom apartment. The lawsuit claims he was required to travel with the family around the United States, Europe and Doha, and was expected to stay up until the family's children had gone to bed

Bancroft (pictured) began his working as a personal trainer for the couple in 2015 at a salary of $5,440 per month along with a furnished two bedroom apartment. The lawsuit claims he was required to travel with the family around the United States, Europe and Doha, and was expected to stay up until the family’s children had gone to bed

‘These illegal agreements were drafted solely by the defendants and plaintiffs were required to accept their terms, or else forfeit their jobs,’ the lawsuit reads.

Their lawyers plan to bring a class action suit on behalf of other workers employed by the couple.

‘There are very good grounds to believe that all of the domestic personnel that worked for the royal household in New York were also victims of wage and hour theft,’ attorney Ariadne Panagopoulou said.

‘The law firm will be asking the court to permit them to send court-authorized notices to those workers, alerting them of their rights to join this lawsuit without suffering any type of retaliation.’

In a response to the complaint, the defendants denied violating any laws or that the plaintiffs were owed any money.

They added that the allegations ‘must be dismissed because of defendants’ diplomatic status and attendant diplomatic immunity’, in a filing submitted by the New York law firm of Proskauer Rose.

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