What We Do in the Shadows: Vampires Disregard Wage and Hour Rules for Human Familiars

As our family continues to practice social distancing, we are always on the lookout for a new comedy series to take a bit of the bite out of this new normal. We found exactly that in the FX series What We Do in the Shadows, a mockumentary exploring the “lives” of four vampire roommates in modern-day Staten Island.


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If Parks and Rec and Dark Shadows had a mischievous love child, this show would be it. These bumbling creatures of the night survive mainly due to the diligent, faithful service of one’s overworked familiar, Guillermo. How do the vampires repay him? Certainly not by complying with wage and hour requirements.

Familiars: The Employees of Vampires

The show follows the misadventures of vampire roommates Nadja (a Romani vampire with a habit of decapitating her human lovers), Laszlo (an English nobleman and erotic topiary enthusiast turned by Nadja, his wife in the afterlife), Nandor the Relentless (the self-proclaimed group leader and former ruthless soldier from the Ottoman Empire), and Colin (an energy vampire who bears a striking resemblance to Dilbert).

They are served by human familiars, who cater to their every vampire need, including procuring fresh victims for their consumption. The familiars are also generally responsible for the rather messy postmeal cleanups.

In addition to finding creative ways to identify potential virgin victims (usually via groups of live-action role-playing gamers, though the vampires sometimes find the gamers “taste too sad”), Nandor’s familiar, Guillermo, also keeps the group safe from their many vampire enemies. He receives no compensation for his dedicated commitment to his unsavory and often dangerous duties, other than a vague hope that he might one day become a vampire himself.

While Guillermo appears to be an impossibly patient, mild-mannered young man with an affinity for cuddly sweaters, he is actually a descendent of famed vampire hunter Van Helsing. As the show goes on, one begins to wonder just how long Guillermo will put up with his abysmal working conditions before he stands up for himself to his undead employer. Something tells me that a demand for a pay raise (or at least some pay) is not what Guillermo has in mind.

No Federal Laws Protect Familiars

Unfortunately for Guillermo, federal law contains no requirement that employers like Nandor honor vague promises to turn familiars into vampires. However, generally, direct care workers (e.g., home health aides, personal care aides, caregivers, and companions) are required to receive federal minimum wage and overtime pay protections under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Failure to comply with these requirements may subject employers to liability for backpay for all unpaid overtime and liquidated damages doubling the amount of unpaid overtime. The statute of limitations is generally 2 years for a violation but may be extended to 3 years if the employee can establish a willful violation. State and local laws may carry additional penalties.

Clearly, Nandor has missed the memo on wage payment issues (not to mention employee morale issues or the rules about not eating humans) during his 757 years on this planet. He’s been too busy enjoying basketball, learning the Macarena, and mourning the dissolution of his former kingdom.