CHICAGO – I don’t blame some of our kababayans (country mates) if they decide to look for lawyers to handle discrimination cases they filed against their employers instead of seeking the assistance of civil rights groups, like the ubiquitous American Civil Liberties Union or the Asian Pacific American Pacific Legal Center (APALC).
I am referring to a recent case filed by a Filipina nanny, Erlinda T. Elemen, against Hollywood actress Sharon Stone, who terminated her services because of her “Filipino ethnicity and heritage.” This came after Elemen refused to return the overtime pay she rightfully deserved based on federal and state labor codes.
I would not object if Filipinos all over the world would boycott the movies of the “Basic Instinct” star for being anti-Filipino.
The Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) of California issued a “Notice of Case Closure” on May 23, 2011 on the discrimination cases filed by Elemen against Stone after it had determined that the latter could bring a legal action against the actress within one year “from the date of this letter.”
DFEH told Elemen that she also had an option to bring the case to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) “within 30 days of receipt of this case closure or within 300 days of the alleged discriminatory act, whichever is earlier.”
For inexplicable reason, Elemen’s lawyer, Solomon E. Gresen, brought to court the case against Stone apparently one year after the period she was authorized to file the complaint. It was a useless effort because it was filed a day late as 2012 was a leap year.
It is not clear if Elemen contacted Gresen shortly before she filed the complaint or procrastinated in filing the case. Gresen did not respond to my email messages for comment, and so was Stone’s lawyer, Daniel R. Gutenplan.
Elemen could have also filed the case with EEOC, a federal law- enforcement agency that enforces laws against workplace discrimination. It investigates discrimination complaints based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, disability, genetic information, and retaliation for reporting, participating in and/or opposing a discriminatory practice.
If the EEOC finds prima facie evidence in a case filed by a complainant, the commission, assisted by ACLU or APALC or a lawyer, usually files a case for harassment and discrimination against employers with any “Article III” federal U.S. district court anywhere in the United States.
Because this kind of case is a bit of a “specialty” of EEOC, ACLU and APALC, I notice that based on the press releases that I received from these agencies, they seem to have chalked up successes in handling anti-bias cases.
Among the latest Filipino-American cases filed by the EEOC and APALC was against the Delano Regional Medical Center (DRMC), an acute care hospital in San Joaquin Valley, Bakersfield, California, which paid $975,000 for the settlement of harassment and discrimination cases filed by 70 Filipino American hospital workers, who were stalked by its security guards and were berated by their employers when they spoke Tagalog or Ilocano even during their break time. An employee even sprayed air freshener on a Filipino’s lunch due to the employee’s self-professed hatred of Filipino food.
If Elemen’s case were not “unconditionally dismissed” by her lawyer, Gresen, and if she had proved her case during a jury trial, Stone would have been told by the Superior Court of Los Angeles that discriminating her nanny is wrong. Court records show that Stone prevented Elemen from talking to her children with her Filipino accent so they would not “talk like you” and commented about Filipino food and equated “being Filipino with being stupid,” and criticized her for frequently attending church and, on one occasion, forbid her from reading the bible in Stone’s residence. These discriminatory actions by the actress were violations of Elemen’s Title VII and First Amendment Right of her freedom of religion.
Why did Stone wait for four years before singling Elemen out? Your guess is as good as mine.