Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Filipina gets $125K in lawsuit

Posted below is the story I wrote for Philippine News about Ruby De Vera's case. I'm hoping to hear back from her soon to get more details so that I can write the update where I will include reactions from Filipino community leaders.

Filipina gets $125K in lawsuit
Yong B. Chavez,
Aug 22, 2007
LOS ANGELES — Ruby De Vera, a former Los Angeles councilman office manager was awarded a $125,000 settlement last week by the City of L. A. after she alleged in a lawsuit that her former boss fired her because she ran for office against a candidate he was endorsing.

"It’s a victory for our Filipino community," said De Vera.

Philippine News ran a story about her firing in 2005 where De Vera related what her boss, Councilman Ed Reyes, gave as a reason for her firing.

"He just told me I embarrassed him when I ran for office," De Vera said at the time.

In 2005, De Vera was working as Reyes' office manager when she ran for the City Council's 14th District, an area where many Filipinos reside. She came in third among 12 candidates. A candidate that Reyes was backing won the seat.

Elected officials in Los Angeles can hire and fire at will without dealing with civil service requirements but Reyes' council colleagues reportedly voted 9 to 2 to settle the case. Without the settlement, the case would go to court and Reyes and possibly other council members would probably have to testify.

De Vera had been working for the City for about 10 years. After her firing, De Vera went to work as a clerk/typist at the City controller’s office.

In her lawsuit, De Vera asked for compensatory, injunctive and punitive damages for, among other reasons, labor code violations and discrimination based on race/ethnic origin. Her legal filing, posted on a prominent Los Angeles political blogsite, also mentioned that "throughout her employment with the city, Plaintiff had always performed her duties competently, received favorable performance evaluations, and maintained an unblemished work history.

Plaintiff was terminated not only because of her political activities and affiliations, but also because of her race (Filipino). Defendants treated non-Filipinos more favorably by, among others, paying them higher salaries despite holding the same or less senior position than Plaintiff. Plaintiff was also terminated because she was a visible and vocal member of the Filipino community, and was involved with various activities which supported the Filipino

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